I am not necessarily interested in different subject matter, but rather in a different type of picture.
Jeff Wall’s photography unifies art history, cinema, literature, and critical theory. Combining the pictorial conventions of modern painting with the narrative lure of cinematography and reportage, his photographs quote from real life; masterpieces by Eugène Delacroix, Édouard Manet, and Katsushika Hokusai; and literature, including the novels of Franz Kafka and Ralph Ellison. Employing a wide range of representational techniques, Wall both reflects and challenges the discourse surrounding spectacle, aesthetics, and photography itself.
Wall was born in 1946 in Vancouver, Canada. As a student at the University of British Columbia, he began exploring conceptual art, inspired by André Breton’s Surrealist novel Nadja (1928) and Robert Smithson’s photo essay Monuments of Passaic (1967). After graduating with an MA in 1970, he turned his focus to art history, studying under T. J. Clark at the Courtauld Institute in London. Wall has continued his art historical explorations, writing essays about contemporary artists including Dan Graham, On Kawara, Bruce Nauman, and Ed Ruscha.
Wall experimented with cinema in his early work, then turned to photography in 1976, looking to expand what he saw as the canonical mode of art photography epitomized in the work of Walker Evans and Robert Frank. Inspired by backlit street advertisements he saw at bus stops in Madrid, he began mounting color transparencies in vast light boxes. These early photo-transparencies simultaneously evoke both history and the present by synthesizing various motifs and settings. The Destroyed Room (1978) explores themes of violence, capitalism, and domestic life through the compositional lens of Delacroix’s The Death of Sardanapalus (1827), while Picture for Women (1979) recalls Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882), reconsidering the implications of the famous painting within the context of the women’s movement. In 1982 Wall began to make what he calls his “near documentary” pictures, remembering and reconstructing memories from his own experiences, as in Mimic (1982), which brings together street photography and cinematography, and suggests racial tension through micro-gestures and body language. By depicting everyday moments that he had witnessed but had not photographed at the time, Wall gave himself the opportunity to re-create or reshape events.
Wall went on to photograph panoramic landscapes and suburban vistas, suspenseful mise-en-scènes, and charged interiors. After purchasing a new studio in 1987, he began to create still lifes and digitally manipulated montages. Staged views of people on the street and in domestic environments became more prevalent in the early 2000s; these works consider the dynamics of figures in space and the relationship between inside and outside. Moving away from photo-transparencies, since the mid-1990s Wall has exhibited black and white silver gelatin prints, and, since 2006, color prints.
I Don’t Like Fiction, I Like History
Duane Hanson with Thomas Demand, Andreas Gursky, Sharon Lockhart, and Jeff Wall
September 5–28, 2018
Artschwager, Chamberlain, Twombly, Varejão, Wall, Weatherford
July 19–August 31, 2018
Extended through June 30, 2018
April 24–June 30, 2018
October 26–December 16, 2017
West 24th Street, New York
In the Studio: Photographs
Curated by Peter Galassi
February 17–April 18, 2015
980 Madison Avenue, New York
Fairs, Events & Announcements
February 7–11, 2018, booth F201
Centro Citibanamex, Mexico City
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Zona Maco México Arte Contemporáneo 2018, presenting works by Chris Burden, John Chamberlain, Dan Colen, Frank Gehry, Piero Golia, Douglas Gordon, Katharina Grosse, Adam McEwen, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Giuseppe Penone, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Jenny Saville, Rudolf Stingel, Robert Therrien, Blair Thurman, Adriana Varejão, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann. If you wish to receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are available at www.zsonamaco.com.
John Chamberlain, Untitled, 1993 © 2018 Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
January 11–14, 2018, booth 209
Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
Gagosian is pleased to participate in FOG Design+Art Fair 2018, presenting a selection of works by Davide Balula, Alexander Calder, Helen Frankenthaler, Piero Golia, Mark Grotjahn, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Houseago, Mike Kelley, Giuseppe Penone, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Taryn Simon, Jeff Wall, and others.
Mark Grotjahn, Untitled (African II, Gated Front and Back Mask M44.e), 2015 © Mark Grotjahn. Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio
October 5, 2018–January 6, 2019
Musée d’Art Moderne Grand Duc-Jean, Luxembourg
Jeff Wall makes references to the history of art and, thanks to his complex orchestrations, is frequently compared to such modern masters as Eugène Delacroix and Édouard Manet. This exhibition has traveled from the Kunsthalle Mannheim in Germany.
Jeff Wall, Mask Maker, 2015 © Jeff Wall
Jeff Wall in
Pedro Costa: Company
October 11, 2018–January 27, 2019
Fundação de Serralves, Porto, Portugal
This exhibition features paintings, sculptures, drawings, books, poems, and documents that shed light on the sources and influences of the distinctive poetic language that manifest in Pedro Costa’s cinematographic vision. Work by Jeff Wall is included.
Jeff Wall, Approach, 2014 © Jeff Wall
June 2–September 9, 2018
Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany
Jeff Wall makes references to the history of art and, thanks to his complex orchestrations, is frequently compared to such modern masters as Eugène Delacroix and Édouard Manet.
Jeff Wall, Listener, 2015 © Jeff Wall. Photo courtesy the artist
Jeff Wall in
February 1–April 7, 2018
University Art Museum, Albany State University of New York
The monumental, multiyear project This Place brings together a group of twelve international artists to explore Israel and the West Bank. The culminating traveling exhibition asks us to look at one of the world’s most contested regions through the distinctive perspectives of multiple artists. Work by Jeff Wall is included.
Jeff Wall, Daybreak, 2011 © Jeff Wall