A mural ‘Punto di Fuga’ or ‘Vanishing Point,’ placed across the scaffolding of Farnese Palace.
Art and culture

An Illusion of Rome’s Farnese Palace

February 23, 2022

Visit the Farnese Palace and you’ll first be struck by a bold black-and-white trompe l’oeil mural covering its façade. This is the work of street JR, who has created a virtual artspace through the walls of the 16th century palace.

A striking installation

The French artist’s momentous 604m²/6,501ft² mural, ‘Punto di Fuga’ or ‘Vanishing Point,’ placed across the scaffolding of Farnese Palace cleverly offers a sneak peek of what lies within its grand interior.  From Doric columns and Francesco Salviati’s frescoes to a statue of Hercules, now in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, JR’s installation also pays tribute to Annibale Carracci’s trompe l’oeil frescoes, ‘The Loves of the Gods’. The mural is on display until spring 2022 and a 15-minute drive from Hotel Eden.

Punto di Fuga French embassy in Italy
Image © JR/French Embassy in Italy
Rome Palazzo Farnese facade
Image © ChMantuano

Rome’s Renaissance jewel

JR’s installation is part of Open for Work, Farnese Palace’s four-year restoration, lasting until 2025, an exciting initiative which invites contemporary artists to use the former palace as a canvas. The Farnese Palace was commissioned by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, who later became Pope Paul III, in the early 16th century. One of the most prominent examples of High Renaissance architecture, it was designed by Italian architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and then redesigned and completed by Italian painter and sculptor Michelangelo. It’s been the home of the French embassy in Rome since 1936.

An open canvas

It wasn’t easy to convince Christian Masset (France’s ambassdor to Italy) to block half his view from the window, however JR insisted it was the only way for the optical illusion to work. While critics claim that JR’s artwork is controversial given the palace’s history, Masset said, “It symbolises France and Italy’s relationship and contributes to the revival of Rome’s culture after the pandemic.” The mural was preceded by the French artist Olivier Grossetête’s 18m/59ft long cardboard bridge, suspended from three balloons, which brought to life an uncompleted project by Michelangelo to connect Farnese Palace and Villa Farnesina on the River Tiber’s west bank.

Ponte Farnese Rome
Image © ChMantuano
JR standing in Galerie Perrotin
Image © Marc Azoulay

JR’s signature method

Parisian JR, whose identity is secret, went from tagging buildings to photography after finding a camera at a Métro station. Known for his monumental monochrome collages, JR has created site-specific works in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, the Louvre in Paris and Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, which raised awareness about the importance of culture during the pandemic. Titled ‘La Ferita’ or ‘The Wound,’ the 28m/92ft tall work creates the illusion of a gash on the façade of Palazzo Strozzi, giving us a glimpse of the artworks inside. He says, “I have the largest gallery you can imagine: the whole world’s walls.”

Other notable works

In 2011, after winning the TED prize, JR created the international project ‘Inside Out’, which used printed portraits on a massive scale to spark change. Then in 2014, JR worked with the New York City Ballet to tell his perspective of the riots in Paris’s Clichy-Montfermeil district through dance. The artist also worked in an abandoned hospital on Ellis Island, New York to make the short film Ellis with Robert De Niro, and collaborated with the Louvre in 2016 to make the pyramid disappear through an optical illusion, by covering it with a photograph of the museum.

Inside Out NYC Times Square
Image © Camlacaze

From large-scale installations to world-class museums, discover Rome’s dynamic art scene all within easy access from Hotel Eden.

Header image courtesy of JR

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