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SFMOMA to unveil major new digital mural Thursday

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“The Chronicles of San Francisco” features more than 1,200 locals

JR, The Chronicles of San Francisco mural, black and white, filled with thousands of city residents.
JR, The Chronicles of San Francisco, 2018.
Photo courtesy of and SFMOMA

Following the exit of Richard Serra’s Sequence, now reinstalled at Stanford University, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will unveil its second big piece for its new lobby, arguably the museum’s most coveted spot.

French artist JR, a TED Prize winner and Oscar nominee known for his black-and-white photography and trademark sunglasses, has created an animated mural called The Chronicles of San Francisco, which will debut Thursday May 23. Billed as his first major digital installation in California, the work was inspired, in part, by Diego Rivera’s San Francisco murals.

To complete the work, the artist used a 53-foot trailer truck as a mobile photo studio, and parked it in 22 pre-determined locations across San Francisco, which welcomed anyone who wanted to participate. Over 1,200 people can be seen in the mural, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Golden State Warriors Draymond Green, Alice Wong, “doctors, swimmers, homeless men and women, shop vendors, drag queens, protesters, children, and many other San Franciscans,” according to SFMOMA.

“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 in a press release. “Every person is presented at the same size, captured with the same light. No one is more important than another.”

Museum visitors will be able to learn more about the participants via a set of nearby iPads features details and interviews with the photographed subjects.

The work will be displayed as a photo-collage scrolling across a span of screens stretching over 100 feet in SFMOMA’s Roberts Family Gallery, which is the free portion of the museum just off the Howard Street entrance.

JR’s work has been seen at the Louvre in Paris, where camouflaged the museum’s I.M. Pei–designed pyramid, and during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with large-scale photo installations of competing athletes.