Artist covers Pantheon with faces of ordinary French people

Artist covers Pantheon with faces of ordinary French people
A photo by French photographer JR is displayed on the ground of the Pantheon in Paris, a secular temple which contains the remains of distinguished French citizens, on June 3, 2014, during the exhibition "Au Pantheon".

The Pantheon in Paris is home to some of France's greatest icons.

Situated in the Latin Quarter in the City of Light, famous Frenchmen, such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, Jean Jaurès and Soufflot, its architect, are all interred there.

Now the world famous icon is getting a major makeover, the Huffington Post reported.

And who are the focus of the makeover?

Not French intellectuals or famous people - just ordinary folk.

The mausoleum will feature the faces of ordinary folk while the landmark undergoes extensive restoration.

Inspired by an art project that triggered global participation, the French government commissioned photographer and street artist JR to create a mosaic for the temporary redesign.

"Those resting here risked their lives. The great men of tomorrow are perhaps among these portraits," JR told French newspaper 20 Minutes.

JR is the brain behind Inside Out, a participatory art project staged around the world and featuring poster-sized self-portraits.

The artist introduced a similar concept for the Pantheon makeover.

He created a website so that anyone could upload photos of their faces in order to take part in the Pantheon project.

He also photographed participants in a portable photo booth around Paris in March.


The artist then narrowed down thousands of portraits by quality, choosing only the most expressive models.

For the final installation, JR installed more than 4,000 anonymous faces on a scaffolding on the exterior of the landmark, and within the mausoleum itself.

In a video interview with Parisian News, the artist said: "The Centre of National Monuments in France approached me because they didn't want any advertising on this monument and they wanted to let an artist take over."

This article was first published on June 6, 2014.
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