JR Creates Dazzling Illusion Across Façade of Rome’s Palazzo Farnese


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French street artist JR is continuing his series of monumental trompe l'oeil installations with a new piece at the French Embassy in Rome. Titled Punto di Fuga, or Vanishing Point, he has opened up the façade of the Palazzo Farnese. Home of the French Embassy, this Renaissance building is returned back to its roots by JR, who has created a classical world across the façade.

The installation, which spreads over more than 6,500 square feet, is actually a clever way to disguise scaffolding. Palazzo Farnese is currently undergoing restoration, and JR was called in to transform the scaffolding into a work of art. His dazzling illusion has managed to enhance a building with a history that dates back to 1517. Worked on by some of the most prominent architects of the day, including Michelangelo, Palazzo Farnese has been home to the French Embassy since 1936.

With images printed on aluminum, JR “exposes” what's hidden behind the building's massive façade. At street level we see the imposing Farnese Hercules. This ancient Roman copy of a Greek original was the pride of the Farnese family's art collection. Now located in the Archeological Museum of Naples, JR has placed it back in its original position at the Farnese family home.

Viewers can also take in Antonio Sangallo's vestibule and the 16th-century frescoes by Francesco Salviati on the upper levels. These all lead into deep, receding crevices that give an incredible sense of depth and space. JR's illusion works perfectly with the architecture, harkening back to 17th- and 18th-century etchings of Rome that would have been used as souvenirs during the Grand Tour.

His use of trompe l'oeil is also appropriate given that Palazzo Farnese is home to The Loves of the Gods by Annibale Carracci. This cycle of frescoes, painted from 1597 to 1608, includes some of the most famous examples of trompe l'oeil in history. So, it only seems fitting that JR should remind viewers of this trick of the eye through his own work.

JR's is just the first of many installations that will be featured at Palazzo Farnese over the next four years. While extensive work is done to the Renaissance gem's roof and façade, a rotating roster of French contemporary artists will use it as a canvas. For the Embassy, it's a way to give back after a long, dark period where cultural offerings were almost entirely halted.

For JR, the return to Rome in such a spectacular fashion is a full-circle moment. As a young photographer, he spent time in the city photographing Rome's underground graffiti and street art scene while wheat pasting his own posters. Now, two decades later, he's back with a splash and working on one of the city's most iconic buildings.

JR has transformed Rome's Palazzo Farnese, home of the French Embassy, with one of his spectacular illusions.

The work references the Renaissance building's classical past.


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The installation is part of a program to decorate Palazzo Farnese as it undergoes restoration.


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JR: Website | Facebook | Instagram
h/t: [NYTimes]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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