Gaping hole opens up under Eiffel Tower in French artist JR’s new optical illusion

Paris trompe l’oeil piece launches ahead of vast exhibition at Saatchi Gallery in London next month


The French street artist JR has created another Instagram-friendly installation, unveiling a trompe l’oeil illusion in Paris that makes it look like the Eiffel Tower is teetering on the edge of a deep ravine.

The new work, located on the Place du Trocadéro near the Palais de Chaillot tricks the eye into believing the landmark is perched on a pair of cliffs; large queues of people keen to take pictures jumping over the would-be chasm have formed near the black-and-white photomontage (the installation is in place for a month).

The Paris piece launches on the eve of the mid-career survey, JR Chronicles, billed as the largest solo museum exhibition to date of the artist’s works, which is due to launch at the Saatchi Gallery in London next month (4 June-3 October).

The survey is an expanded version of an exhibition shown at the Brooklyn Museum in New York in 2019. The show is due to include Tehachapi (2019) which charts a collaborative project co-created with the inmates of a maximum-security prison in California (JR pasted 338 strips of paper on the prison yard floor, creating a vast mural of prisoners and staff that is visible from above).

In March, JR unveiled another dramatic work on the façade of the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, creating an illusory 28m-tall crack in the building, entitled La Ferita (The Wound), that appears to split the gallery in half.

Other notable works by the prolific 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. JR also helped coordinate the “Art and Image” project at the École Kourtrajmé, a cinema school founded by his longtime collaborator and film director Ladj Ly.