Street artist JR rips off the front of Florence's Palazzo Strozzi in new optical illusion work

Trompe l’oeil image called La Ferita (The Wound) reflects on the difficulties of accessing culture during Covid-19 and reveals Botticelli’s Primavera and The Birth of Venus

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JR's La Ferita (the wound) at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence Photo: JR

JR's La Ferita (the wound) at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence Photo: JR

French-born artist JR has unveiled one of his most dramatic works yet on the façade of the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, creating an illusory 28m-tall crack in the building that appears to split the gallery in half. The piece, known as La Ferita (The Wound), reveals other celebrated art and heritage sites in the city such as the library of the Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento. Other works seen in the trompe l’oeil image include Botticelli’s Primavera (around 1477) and The Birth of Venus (around 1485), which are both housed at the Uffizi Galleries.

JR’s new piece marks the launch of the Palazzo Strozzi Future Art Programme, a new contemporary art initiative which includes an annual public art commission for Florence. The new programme is backed by the philanthropist Andy Bianchedi who runs a property company in Milan. Details of future commissions are yet to be announced; meanwhile, an exhibition of works by the US artist Jeff Koons is due to open at the Renaissance palazzo in October (the venue is currently closed due to coronavirus).

“It is apt that we launch the programme with JR's new work La Ferita, a powerful reflection on the difficult conditions surrounding access to culture in the age of Covid-19, but also a symbol of freedom, creative imagination and participation and an opportunity to involve the audience, the public at large, in a totally new way,” says Arturo Galansino, the director general of Palazzo Strozzi, in a statement.

The work is the latest high-profile large-scale public installation by JR. Other notable works by the artist include The Secret of the Great Pyramid (2019), a large-scale illusory collaborative piece created to mark the 30th anniversary of the Louvre Pyramid, and Tehachapi (2019) which documents the artist’s experiences with inmates of a maximum-security prison in California. New dates are yet to be announced for an exhibition of JR’s works scheduled to open at Saatchi Gallery in London.

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