Report from the 7 November 2023


JR au Palais Garnier
JR au Palais Garnier 18 images


A work by JR on the façade of the Palais Garnier, evoking Plato's cave, a place of knowledge and transmission.

Free access to projections on the Place de l'Opéra on 9, 10, 16 and 17 September.
Free access to performances on the Place de l'Opera on 12 November at 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm.

As part of the restoration of the Palais Garnier, the Opera national de Paris has invited the artist JR to decorate the scaffolding covering the monument with two successive installations.

This project is a continuation of the artist's work, which has included enormous pieces that have taken over the surroundings of the Louvre Museum, the Trocadero esplanade, the Farnese Palace in Rome or the Strozzi Palace in Florence, each time as an invitation for viewers to change their perspective.

Like an opera libretto, the artist proposes a metamorphosis of the façade in two acts, the first in September and the second in November. 

Act II - Dans la caverne

After presenting Act I of his "Back to the cave" project in September on the façade of the Palais Garnier, which is being restored and covered by scaffolding, JR invites the public to discover the second part of the project throughout November.

With Act II, the architecture of the building fades away to make way for the entire grotto, enveloping the façade in its mineral bark. The walls are now covered with a constellation of human imprints.

Establishing the cavern as the birthplace of cave art, the handprints were collected thanks to the participation of hundreds of visitors to the "Mano Habilis" workshop offered by 19M and run for two months by Atelier Montex, 19M's resident embroidery house. Participants learned how to embroider their own handprints, which were then placed on the cavern walls alongside hundreds of others.

On 12 November, at 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm, the public is invited to attend the opening of the cave, which will reveal its secrets for an exceptional evening. Two free performances will be held on the Place de l'Opéra, which will be closed to traffic for the occasion.

Upon JR's invitation, choreographer Damien Jalet proposes "CHIROPTERA", a performance for 153 dancers from all over Europe, with the exceptional participation of Amandine Albisson, Étoile of the Paris national Opera, wearing a costume designed by CHANEL. The House also supported the design and fabrication of costumes for the 153 dancers. For around twenty minutes, to a music creation by Thomas Bangalter, the cavern, now a stage curtain for the evening, will open up, allowing spectators to catch a glimpse of its dreamlike vocation.

If the first Act of JR's "Retour à la caverne" referred to the origins of ballet and opera, blending the classical architecture of the building's colonnades with the archaic structure of a geological opening, Act II invites us to go even further back in time. The cavern becomes a protective place, sheltering its residents from the violence of the world. Darkness reveals light.

The walls become prehistoric, and the discovery of the cave becomes speleological: on 12 November, spectators are invited to equip themselves with headlamps in order to catch a glimps of the treasures it conceals.

Practical information for November 2023

  • The installation will be displayed from 7 - 25 November.

  • Performances on Sunday, 12 November, 2023, on the Place de l'Opera, at 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm

  • We recommend you bring a headlamp to take part in the illumination of JR's work.

Act I - L’entrée de la caverne

As of 6 September, the public is invited to discover JR's interpretation of the monumental façade of the Temple of Music and Dance, revealing the entrance to an immense cavern opening onto a perspective of rock and light.

Playing on the romantic codes of the 19th century, in the style of painter Hubert Robert, but also with references to the great stage sets of operas by Berlioz or Wagner, the Napoleon III architectural elements seem to be caught in a double temporal movement. At once the ruin of a past that would see Parisian monuments subjected to their own fragility and questioning their eternal character, we catch a glimpse of a work in permanent reconstruction, as attested by the numerous scaffolding structures, a nod to the real and necessary work that physically supports this new installation.

Walking up Avenue de l'Opéra, visitors are invited to project themselves into this geological universe, a visual evocation of the origins of ballet and opera, when song and dance celebrated the divinities of archaic Greece in caves set aside for the occasion. It wasn't until the 6th century B.C. that these celebrations were brought closer to the cities, where real tribunes and bleachers were dug to bring together all the citizens. The theater was born, Epidaurus was built.

At the same time as hijacking the motif of scaffolding and introducing a Romantic-inspired return to nature, the artist draws inspiration from Plato's philosophical allegory of the cave, a place whose exit provides access to knowledge and understanding of the world.

In September 2023, this cave of origins will be brought to life by projections over four evenings, presenting extracts from lyrical and choreographic works associated with the Paris Opera. The Opera is open to all, and its façade becomes its stage, with performances that are visible from the street.

For its part, the Opera is delighted to be able to make its shows accessible to as many people as possible on the occasion of this exceptional operation, as it does throughout the year in its auditoriums, on its POP platform or as part of its initiative Opéra d’été.


Practical information for September 2023

The September installation will be on view from 7 - 25 September.


  • Saturday September 9: Les Bosquets by JR, L'oiseau de feu by Maurice Béjart

  • Sunday, September 10: Boléro by Maurice Béjart, an excerpt from Les Contes d'Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach, directed by Robert Carsen, Brise-lames by Damien Jalet

  • Saturday September 16: an excerpt from Le Parc by Angelin Preljocaj, Die Grosse Fuge by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, an excerpt from La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi, directed by Simon Stone

  • Sunday September 17: The Art Of Not Looking Back by Hofesh Shechter, an excerpt from Les Indes Galantes by Jean-Philippe Rameau, directed by Clément Cogitore

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