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JR makes Louvre pyramid disappear

French artist’s work is a criticism of our selfie culture

The French artist JR has created an anamorphosis of the Musée du Louvre's pyramid by entirely covering one of its glass sides with a black-and-white photograph. The image of the museum buildings behind is intended to give the illusion that I.M.Pei's pyramid has temporarily disappeared.

“JR wanted to intervene in a spectacular manner in the public space,” says Stéphane Malfettes, a curator at the Louvre, about how the work came about.

JR, best known for mounting women's portraits onto building facades in a Brazilian favela and his Inside Out global art project, had a specific idea in mind: to combat the selfie “phenomenon” of tourists snapping themselves in front of the Louvre without really observing its architecture.

“I was watching people taking photos of the museum with their selfie sticks, turning their back on the pyramid and it really shocked me,” he says. JR identified the spot where tourists were most likely to take selfies and used this as his starting point. “At that spot, we have the impression that the pyramid is completely erased,” he says. “What I'm looking at is the interaction of people.”

The covering of the pyramid with this huge photographic image recalls how certain companies are renting monuments' facades for advertising purposes. “I try to fight against that, work by work,” says the artist, who did not accept any sponsorship for this project.

JR is organising a 24-hour programme on 28-29 May in the Louvre's auditorium featuring the participation of, among others, Daniel Buren, Felice Varini, Agnès Varda and the model Cara Delevingne.

• JR au Louvre runs until 27 June