Art Installations by JR hit San Francisco Streets, Atop Academy of Art University Building

Academy of Art University

In the latest installment of a history of public artwork, French artist, Oscar nominee, and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2018, JR has created a one-of-a-kind multimedia art installation that is already proving to be wildly popular: “The Chronicles of San Francisco.”

This multimedia presentation also includes additional features, but the main installation that features animation and wheat-pasted murals is available for viewing free of charge at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s (SFMOMA) Roberts Family Gallery through the fall of 2020.

San Francisco Reflects the Art of Generations

“For several years I have been contemplating how the work of a contemporary artist who started in the streets might be brought into our galleries,” said Neal Benezra, Helen and Charles Schwab, Director of SFMOMA. “From 1930, when our founding director, Grace McCann Morley, persuaded Diego Rivera to come to San Francisco to complete a series of mural commissions, our city has been home to a rich and expressly democratic tradition of paintings made for the public. JR’s project, which captures a unique portrait of our extraordinary and idiosyncratic city, is the perfect opportunity to bring art from the street into our museum’s   free art-filled ground floor.”

JR started tagging buildings with his artwork all across Paris while still a teenager. Eventually, he moved from expressive graffiti to photo-based work after discovering a camera in the Paris Metro. JR is best known for creating large-scale portraits that he pastes on buildings, rooftops, trains and trucks, and even streets, in projects around the world. This is the artist’s first major installation in California.

Throughout January and February 2018, JR and his team used a mobile photographic studio packed into a 53-foot trailer truck to gather material. They parked in 22 pre-determined spots throughout San Francisco and welcomed the passing public to participate in the project by submitting photos and interview material.

More than 1,200 people were interviewed, filmed, and photographed, from every possible walk of life, including, but not limited to:

  • Golden State Warriors Basketball great, Draymond Green
  • California Governor, Gavin Newsom
  • Doctors
  • Swimmers
  • Tourists
  • the Homeless
  • Protesters
  • Members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
  • Shop owners
  • Street vendors
  • Drag queens
  • Children
  • Many other citizens and guests of San Francisco

JR claims that his aim is to represent all people equally, gaining inspiration from artist Diego Rivera, who labeled the city with murals beginning in 1930.

“The mural aims to be a picture of society, not depicting good and bad, but rather showing that both sides are present in everyone,” said JR. “Every person is presented at the same size, captured with the same light. No one is more important than another.”

The mural can be viewed scrolling across a seamless span of screens stretching over 100 feet in SFMOMA’s Roberts Family Gallery. Adjacent to the mural will be iPad kiosks, on which visitors will be able to further explore the mural by listening to the audio interviews of each of its subjects.

Eye on Academy of Art University

The artist has also erected large-scale wheat-pasted images in select locations around San Francisco. Academy of Art University is pleased to host one of the iconic images on the rooftop of its school building located at 180 New Montgomery in the downtown area. The image is of a gigantic eye that seems to be watching over the Academy campus and its students.

“We are excited to be a part of this project. This is especially meaningful to us because it happens on the 90th anniversary of Academy of Art University,” said Academy President, Dr. Elisa Stephens. “In many ways, the Academy and San Francisco have grown up together. And like this city and its people, we are proud to share the values of inclusion and diversity that have made this place a heaven for aspiring artists and designers.”

Academy of Art University opened its doors in a meager storefront in downtown San Francisco in 1929, and is now the largest privately-owned art institution in the United States. For the past 90 years, the Academy has trained thousands of artists and creatives in a host of disciplines that contribute to various industries around the world.

Students can learn in 22 major schools of study, earning certificates through masters degrees in everything from Art Education to Photography to Visual Development. Unique among art schools, Academy instructors are themselves all working creatives who are currently engaged in their fields of expertise. This allows them to lend real-world experience and current techniques to the classroom, affording Academy students opportunities they can find nowhere else. The school also has an extensive athletic program.

Students of every stripe are welcome at Academy of Art University. The Academy’s inclusive admissions policy is rare among art schools. They have found that every student’s potential doesn’t depend on the student’s past elsewhere, but on their future with the Academy. Aspiring creatives from around the world, and from within a variety of cultures, can find their place and purpose at Academy of Art University.

Related: Academy of Art University VFX Program Alumni Work on Avengers: Endgame


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