JR: Can Art Change the World?


This is the first major, in-depth retrospective monograph on JR, the enigmatic and anonymous Parisian photographer, artist and activist behind some of the world’s most provocative, large-scale public photography projects. Created in close collaboration with JR, this book includes all bodies of work, his collaborations with other artists and institutions such as the New York Ballet, and previously unpublished behind-the-scenes documentation of his studios in Paris and New York, where he and creative collaborators live and work.


Working anonymously, pasting his giant images on buildings, trains and bridges, the often-guerrilla artist JR forces us to see each other. Travelling to distant, often dangerous places—the slums of Kenya, the favelas of Brazil—he infiltrates communities, befriending inhabitant and recruiting them as models and collaborators. He gets in his subjects’ faces with a 28mm wide-angle lens, resulting in portraits that are unguarded, funny, soulful, real, that capture the spirits of individuals who normally go unseen. The blown-up images pasted on urban surfaces—the sides of buildings, bridges, trains, buses, on rooftops—confront and engage audiences where they least expect it. Images of Parisian thugs are pasted up in bourgeois neighbourhoods; photos of Israelis and Palestinians are posted together on both sides of the walls that separate them.

Swipe was pleased to be included as one of JR’s stops in last month’s Nuit Blanche. While here, he did a pasting on the spines of his books, which we then cut free as they were sold, allowing attendees to take home a “piece” of JR’s art. Do you live in Toronto? Come check out the display in our shop, and pick up a copy of the book for yourself, or to give as a gift to the art lover in your life.
Can’t make it to our 401 Richmond Street West location? Send us an email info at swipe dot com or give us a call 416-363-1332.