SAN FRANCISCO, CA (September 12, 2018) — TED prize winner, Oscar nominee, and one of Time’s 100 most influential people of 2018, French artist JR began tagging buildings in Paris as a teenager. Eventually shifting from graffiti to photo-based work after finding a camera in the Paris Metro, JR has become known for creating large-scale portraits that he pastes on buildings, streets, rooftops, trains and trucks, in projects that have taken him around the world. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) today announces the presentation of the artist’s first major San Francisco installation, a video mural entitled The Chronicles of San Francisco that will open on April 25, 2019, in the museum’s Roberts Family Gallery, a free space off of the entrance at Howard Street.
“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.”
Inspired by the murals of Diego Rivera, JR sought to create a portrait of San Francisco through his art. In January and February 2018, the artist and his team transformed a 53-foot trailer truck into a photographic studio, and parked it in 22 pre-determined locations across the length and breadth of San Francisco, welcoming anyone who wished to participate. As a result, nearly 1,200 people — including well known public figures such as former San Francisco mayor and current California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and Golden State Warriors basketball star Draymond Green, as well as members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, doctors, swimmers, homeless men and women, shop vendors, protesters, children and many other San Franciscans — have been filmed, photographed and interviewed.Following the de-installation of Richard Serra’s sculpture, Sequence, the completed work, The Chronicles of San Francisco, will be displayed as a digital photo-collage scrolling across a seamless span of screens stretching over 100 feet in SFMOMA’s Roberts Family Gallery. Immediately afterward, in the summer of 2020, the museum will present Diego Rivera’s mural Pan American Unity in the same space in conjunction with a major exhibition of Rivera’s work.