For the first time in the history of the Olympic Games, three artists-in-residence have been invited to paint the town during the games, leaving behind dramatic artistic impressions on the Cidade Maravilhosa. French contemporary artist JG has constructed three massive black-and-white photo installations around the city. With a nod to high-jumpers, swimmers and divers, his creations, which are supported within large-scale scaffolds, can be seen in the Flamengo, Barra da Tijuca and Botafogo areas of Rio de Janeiro, the former a stunning rendition of a high-jumper careening over the top of a residential skyscraper with Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer status as a backdrop.
American digital artist Gerald Andal is on board as well, canvassing the city in an effort to tell the story of the Olympics through Vine, the short-form social media video sharing service (166,500 or so folks were following his vibrant account at time of writing). In similar fashion, award-winning German writer Tilman Spengler is there, but rather than spending his time posting to social media, he is scouring the city for inspiration for a forthcoming graphic novel.
Elsewhere, American sculptor Anthony Howe has created an artistic windmill of sorts to house the Olympic flame opposite the 19th century neoclassical church of Candelária. The kinetic sculpture, 12m in diameter, spins elegantly in the wind and is particularly cinematic at sunset, when the retreating sunlight shifts and shines amid a kaleidoscope of glittering light.
And let’s not forget world-famous Brazilian graffiti artist Eduardo Kobra, who wasn’t going for gold at these Olympic Games but rather Guinness. His 2945-sq-m, 190-metre-long mural Etnias, which features five indigenous faces from five continents, is aiming to set a new Guinness World Record for the largest mural created by one artist. Kobra is one of 13 artists who designed official Olympic posters for the Rio Games. Etnias can be viewed in the rejuvenated port area.
Of course, all of these new art installations will go along quite nicely with Rio’s most famous public art installation, Escadaria Selarón, the emblematic staircase connecting the neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Teresa. The work, which features 215 steps plastered with colorful artistic tiles from around the world, was the lifetime work of Chilean-born artist Selarón, who passed away in 2013.
For those seeking to dig deeper into Rio’s public art scene, there are street art tours in the city, including a four-hour tour from Brazil Expedition, which runs during the work week (or for groups on weekends).