JR's life in black and white

Get to know the French artist and activist via a suitably graphic medium - the comic strip
Share
A page from our JR comic strip, Beginnings by Joseph Remnant. As featured in JR: Can Art Change the World?
A page from our JR comic strip, Beginnings by Joseph Remnant. As featured in JR: Can Art Change the World?

JR: Can Art Change the World? is the first comprehensive monograph dedicated to the innovative artist JR and its visual boldness and imaginative presentation does him the justice he deserves. 

Take its introduction, a comic strip entitled Beginnings by Joseph Remnant, which tells the story in black and white pen strokes of JR’s fascinating rise to prominence. We see how his first artistic etchings were scratch marks on his desk in the high school he attended growing up on the outskirts of Paris. The comic strip reveals how, in his mid-teens, he started to run with a group of taggers, crawling over city rooftops by night, leaving his mark on chimney stacks. And it also depicts the discovery of a film camera at the Charles De Gaulle-Étoile RER station in Paris, which he began to use to document the tagging escapades of his friends.

He pasted up the resulting photographs around the city on walls, eventually taking these "street exhibitions” international, travelling and exhibiting in cities such as Rome and New York. Even after the pastings were removed by the authorities, his spray painted frames remained; his indelible mark on the city walls.

 

Portrait of a Generation: Braquage, Ladj Ly, Les Bosquets, Montfermeil, France, 2004. From JR: Can Art Change the World
Portrait of a Generation: Braquage, Ladj Ly, Les Bosquets, Montfermeil, France, 2004. From JR: Can Art Change the World

We see how his work took on a more social dimension when he befriended a group of guys in one of the Parisian projects. There followed an incident in which three of them were killed after a police chase, prompting riots, in which one of JR’s pastings formed a backdrop, on a wall behind a burning car. This was a turning point for JR. He returned to the projects, this time with a camera and 28mm lens, determined to show the world a truer picture of the guys living there; “not angels, but not monsters either.” Read more about our new the book here, and pre-order your copy here.

JR with his new book, JR: Can Art Change The World, Phaidon's London offices, September 2015
JR with his new book, JR: Can Art Change The World, Phaidon's London offices, September 2015


Related



ABOUT PHAIDON

Phaidon is the premier global publisher of the creative arts with over 1,500 titles in print. We work with the world's most influential artists, chefs, writers and thinkers to produce innovative books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel, and illustrated books for children. Phaidon is headquartered in London and New York City.
Read more