Giant Olympic Athlete Sculptures Soar Over Rio

Street artist JR immortalizes those not competing in this year's Olympic Games.

by Beckett Mufson
Aug 3 2016, 3:50pm


Ever chasing a greater spectacle, street artist JR unveiled a whole new technique for his large-scale public artworks in advance of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this morning. He has revealed two towering sculptures, stretched across scaffolding overlooking the city. The first depicts 27-year-old Sudanese high-jumper Mohamed Younes Idriss soaring over a high-rise. "He missed out on qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics but he is there some how [sic]," writes JR on Instagram. The other is an unnamed swimmer diving off of a cliff. 

Fresh off of a popular intervention in which he made the Louvre's glass pyramid "disappear," JR says that he has been working on his new technique for over a year. It combines his trademark massive wheatpastes with fabric tied to scaffolding that rises above his target. He calls the works "flying sculptures," and promises that there are, "More images and stories to come."


Installing new piece in Rio everything :) #InProgress #ioprio2016

A photo posted by JR (@jr) on

It's difficult to say whether these artworks are a celebration of the Olympics' international spirit, or a large-scale protest of what's shaking up to be one of the messiest Games in recent memory. With a still out-of-control outburst of the Zika virus still plaguing Rio and corruption and doping scandals breaking even before the games begin, JR's choice of an athelete not participating in the games this year could be a subtle middle finger to a sporting authority with a tenuous hold on the trust of the people.


Last touch of one of the giant in Rio! #ioprio2016 #workinprogress

A photo posted by JR (@jr) on


Moon in Progress @_casa_amarela #Rio #Providencia #CasaAmarelaArtSchool @marcelosantosbraga

A photo posted by JR (@jr) on


Building my craziest piece in Rio ... work in progress #IOPRio2016

A photo posted by JR (@jr) on


See more of JR's work on Instagram. Find your next favorite artist on The Creators Project's Instagram feed.


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