Rio 2016: Giant figures take over the city for the Olympic Games

Story highlights

  • French artist JR has created four large-scale installations for the 2016 Olympics
  • He describes the structures as his "craziest" project yet

(CNN)Rio de Janeiro has been taken over by giants.

A massive high jumper floats over a highrise building, while in the city's Barra neighborhood, a colossal figure glides gracefully into the seawater.
    Or at least, that's what French street artist JR wants you to see.
    In celebration of this year's Olympic Games, the artist, who is widely known for his public art installations, has covered the streets of the host city in large-scale art installations.
    Each depicts an Olympic athlete turning the city into their own personal playground.

    A photo posted by JR (@jr) on

    The elusive artist is known for his large-scale installations. He has traveled the globe for his Inside Out Project, which has covered walls and buildings in 129 countries.
    Most recently, he completely covered a famous Paris landmark in his signature black-and-white imagery.
    Now, in Rio, the artist has created what he describes as his "craziest piece" of art yet.

    Return to Rio

    JR had been teasing the project for several weeks on social media, explaining that the huge installations -- which are each supported by layers of scaffolding -- have been in progress for almost a year.
    To date, he has revealed three completed installations: a swimmer in Guanabara Bay, a diver in Barra, and a high jumper bending back over a building in the Flamengo neighborhood.
    The image of the jumper, he explains, is a tribute to Ali Mohamed Younes Idris, a Sudanese athlete who is unable to participate in the 2016 Games due to an injury.
    "He still came to Rio and jumps over a building in Flamengo," JR said in an Instagram post.
    This is not JR's first time creating an art installation in Rio.
    In 2008, his "Women are Heroes" project showcased the faces of local women across the city's slum neighborhoods, known as favelas.