Here you go Stacey, approximately 1,000 words less footnotes and
source references. There's a wealth of information on this fascinating
artist on the Web, as you'll note from the sources I provide at the
I sincerely hope you use my research as a tool to assist you in
developing your own "introduction" to Wall rather than a substitute
for doing the work yourself. As I said, he's a fascinating figure,
and well worth the time and effort to study.
Search strategy: "Jeff Wall" "digital imaging"
Jeff Wall - An Introduction
Born in Canada in 1946, Jeff Wall is a Vancouver-based artist whose
work has been exhibited extensively throughout North America, Europe,
and Japan. Wall completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1968 and a
Master of Arts degree in 1970, both at the University of British
Columbia. Wall has taught at the Nova Scotia College of Art and
Design, the Centre for the Arts at Simon Fraser University, and the
University of British Columbia.
In 2002, Wall won the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in
Photography. The prize will be awarded at a ceremony held in Göteborg,
Sweden on November 9, 2002.
The Foundations decision to award the 2002 prize to Jeff Wall was
noted with the following statement:
For over 20 years, Jeff Wall has developed an outstanding body of
work, using photography in a very innovative way which has helped
establish for the medium a major place in contemporary art. With his
carefully staged and composed images, sometimes digitally altered,
placed in back-lit boxes borrowed from advertising, he has explored a
wide range of social and political themes, such as urban violence,
racism, poverty, gender and class conflicts, history, memory,
representation, and many others. His photographs, in colour or in
black and white, maintain a constant dialogue with great genre
painting of the 19th century, and truly make of him, in the words of
Charles Baudelaire, a painter of modern life.(1)
Wall began making art in the late sixties, before interrupting this
activity to study art history, and resume his work in the
mid-seventies on a different basis. During 1970 through 1973, Wall
studied at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. He continually
posed himself the question of how an artist could create an intense
impression, in the fashion of Goya or Manet, by depicting the current
He also asked himself what kind of work would be significant for our
modern society. One answer to these questions was his idea of using
fluorescent light boxes with photographs, thus hitting on a new way of
expression. As Wall put it, "It is not photography, cinema, painting,
or propaganda -- though it has strong associations with them all." The
model for this was cinema, or what he called cinematography, of
which he began using some of the techniques and procedures. (2)
In 1977 he began making carefully composed, backlit Cibachrome
transparencies. Since 1991 he has used digital technology to produce
panoramic photographs, often making reference to well-known works of
Walls backlit photographic transparencies are set in cases generally
associated with advertising display; but instead of advertisements,
Wall fills them with moments of everyday life that usually go
unacknowledged. Wall's photographs combine historic and contemporary
forms to picture the social realities of modern life. They owe their
scale and composition to the language of painting, often
reconstructing specific images from the past, while their narrative
drama draws on the conventions of cinema.
Wall often creates his works using actors and actresses on location,
as in a movie production, and uses a computer to construct elaborate
scenes. Just as painters of past ages composed and depicted historic
scenes, landscapes and fashions, Wall portrays our present age fully
applying his knowledge of art history and photography. In 1993, for
instance, influenced by the Japanese woodblock artist, Katsushika
Hokusai, he produced "A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai)," a
portrait of modern times modeled after "Sunshu Ejiri," one of "The 36
Views of Mt. Fuji."
In 1978, Jeff Wall produced the "The Destroyed Room" -- the first time
he used a light box covered with a color transparency, as in a
Japanese subway wall advertisement -- giving it an appeal in the style
of advertising. The work, which the artist arranged as elaborately as
a stage set, recreates a vandalized private room.
Jeff Wall and Dan Graham collaborated to produce The Childrens
Pavilion, a work which explores the possibilities for a utopian arena
where the not already formed imaginations of children are able to
develop according to principles of democracy and freedom.
Wall uses his hometown, Vancouver, urban life, and other objects to
mirror the society in which we live. His international reputation is
that of a storyteller for our age. Wall is concerned with social
political questions, art historical traditions, and the role of
photography within visual media. The meaning and function of the image
in contemporary society are considered as well. Wall uses photography
as a medium to reflect the reality of everyday life because of its
special quality to represent complex questions of reception.
The presented scenes in Walls works at first appear as mere
snapshots. Yet they are intentional constructed pictures. Individuals
are transformed by the artist into key figures of a narration.
Everyday places become extraordinary scenes. Empty spaces, vacated
buildings or unlived areas leave the observer with the impression of
isolation in society. Wall stages in all of his works situations where
boundaries of human existence in the social context are negated.
Walls work has been widely exhibited. His group shows include Art and
Film, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Projections, Ydessa
Hendeles Art Foundation, Toronto, Public Information, San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art, California, About Place: Recent Art of the
Americas, The Art Institute of Chicago, and Whitney Biennial, Whitney
Museum of American Art, New York (1995); Contemporary Photography,
Absolute LandscapeBetween Illusion and Reality, Yokohama Museum of
Art, and documenta X, Kassel (1997); XXIV Bienal de São Paulo (1998);
and The Museum as Muse: Artists Reflect, Museum of Modern Art, New
York, and The Time of Our Lives, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New
Solo gallery exhibitions of Walls work have been presented at Galerie
Johnen & Schöttle, Cologne (1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1994, 1998), and
at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (1989, 1992, 1995, 1998). Walls
museum shows include Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid
(1994); Jeu de Paume, Paris (1995); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London,
Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, and Städtische Galerie im
Lenbachhaus, Munich (1996); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,
Washington, D.C., Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and Art
Tower Mito, Japan (1997); Henry Moore Institute, Leeds (1998); and
Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Espai dart Contemporaneu,
Castellon, and Mies van der Rohe Foundation, Barcelona (1999).
Recent exhibitions of Walls work include Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle,
München (2001, 2002); Galerie Johnen & Schöttle, Köln ((2001, 2002);
and the Marian Goodman Gallery, New York (2001, 2002).
Jeff Wall: A Selected Bibliography
London: Phaidon Press Ltd., 1996.
LOCATION: Fine Arts: FA10309.874.112
Tilburg: De Pont Stichting voor Hedendaagse Kunst, 1994.
LOCATION: Fine Arts: XCage XFA10309.874.
Chicago, The Museum of Contemporary Art:
LOCATION: Fine Arts: FA10309.874.106
Jeff Wall: 14 de septiembre-7 de noviembre de 1994.
Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, c1994.
LOCATION: Fine Arts: FA10309.874.108
Jeff Wall, landscapes and other pictures.
Wolfsburg [Germany]: Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, c1996.
LOCATION: Fine Arts: FA10309.874.114
Jeff Wall, transparencies.
London: Institute of Contemporary Arts
LOCATION: Fine Arts: FA10309.874.100
Jeff Wall. Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, Distributed in
North America by D.A.P., c1997.
LOCATION: Fine Arts: FA10309.874.110
Jeff Wall, 1990.
Vancouver, B.C., Canada: Vancouver Art Gallery, c1990.
LOCATION: Fine Arts: FA10309.874.102
Jeff Wall: Simple Indication.
Bruxelles: La Lettre volee, c1995.
LOCATION: Fine Arts: FA10309.874.116
Jeff Wall : three excerpts from a discussion with T. J. Clark, Claude
Gintz, Serge Guilbaut and Anne Wagner = Jeff Wall : drei Auszüge aus
einer Diskussion mit T. J. Clark, Claude Gintz, Serge Guilbaut und
Parkett 1989, no. 22, p. 82-89, ISSN 0256-0917.
Jeff Wall : Wahrheit ist kein Werk von Sekunden.
Art (Hamburg) 1996, no. 6, June, p. 14-25, ISSN 0173-2781.
Photo O I : photo-police.
Parachute 1992, no. 68, oct-nov-déc, p. 9-15, ISSN 0318-7020.
Art monthly 1994, no. 179, Sept, p. 3-7, ISSN 0142-6702.
Boogerd, Dominic van den.
De architectuur van het kinderspel [The architecture of the children's
game ]: Dan Graham & Jeff Wall: het Children's Pavilion.
Archis 1991, no. 6, June, p. 46-51, ISSN 0921-8041.
Jeff Wall, l'académie intérieure.
Galeries magazine 1990, no. 35, fév-mars, p. 96-103, 141, ISSN
Jeff Wall, Jeu de paume.
Artforum 1996, v. 34, no. 7, Mar, p. 96-97, 119, ISSN 0004-3532.
Profane illuminations : social history and the art of Jeff Wall.
Artforum 1993, v. 31, no. 6, Feb, p. 62-69, ISSN 0004-3532.
Jeff Wall, Lakonie der Landschaft.
Neue bildende Kunst 1996, v. 6, no. 4, Aug-Sept, p. 34-41,ISSN
The children's pavilion = Der Kinderpavillon.
Parkett 1989, no. 22, p. 66-70, ISSN 0256-0917.
Art in America 1990, v. 78, no. 4, Apr, p. 246-247, ISSN 0004-3214.
Arts magazine 1990, v. 64, no. 9, May, p. 50-55, ISSN 0004-4059.
[Jeff] Wall St.
Taide (Helsinki) 1996, v. 36, no. 2, p. 42-43, ISSN 0039-8977.
Some postmodern paradigms.
C (Toronto. 1987) 1991, no. 30, summer, p. 19-25, ISSN 0838-0392.
Beaux Arts magazine 1992, no. 101, mai, p. 85-87, ISSN 0757-2271.
Galeries magazine 1989, no. 33, oct-nov, p. 96-99, p. 184, ISSN
Progressive Universalpoesie des Medienzeitalters : "Dead troops talk,"
Arbeiten von Jeff Wall in den Hamburger Deichtorhallen.
Texte zur Kunst 1994, v. 4, no. 14, June, p. 164-170, ISSN 0940-9459.
Myers, Terry R.
Up against Jeff Wall.
New art examiner 1995, v. 23, no. 2, Oct, p. 22-25, ISSN 0886-8115.
Jeff Wall's pictures : knowledge and enchantment.
Flash art 1995, v. 28, no. 181, Mar-Apr, p. 77-81, ISSN 0394-1493.
Schatten und Licht : Christian Boltanski und Jeff Wall = Light and
shadow : Christian Boltanski and Jeff Wall.
Parkett 1989, no. 22, p. 52-65, ISSN 0256-0917.
Jeff Wall : dem Bild auf den Grund gehen = Jeff Wall : excavation of
Parkett 1989, no. 22, p. 71-81, ISSN 0256-0917.
Art in America 1991, v. 79, no. 11, Nov, p. 104-115, 173, ISSN
Arts magazine 1989, v. 64, no. 4, Dec, p. 79, ISSN 0004- 4059.
Lightbox, camera, action!.
ARTnews 1995, v. 94, no. 9, Nov, p. 220-223, ISSN 0004-3273.
Leuchttafeln des modernen Lebens : Beobachtungen zu Jeff Wall
anlässlich einer Wanderausstellung.
Kunstchronik 1994, v. 47, no. 9, Sept, p. 579-582, ISSN 0023-5474.
The uneasy sublime : defiance and liberal melancholy in Jeff Wall's
Parachute 1992, no. 66, avr-juin, p. 11-19, ISSN 0318-7020.
The Children's pavilion : Jeff Wall and Dan Graham's collaborative
Canadian art 1990, v. 7, no. 2, summer, p. 70-73, ISSN 0825-3854.
De kunstgeschiedenis als vergrootglas : het werk van Jeff Wall = Art
history as magnifying glass : the work of Jeff Wall.
Archis 1994, no. 10, Oct, p. 60-66, ISSN 0921-8041.
The sublime void.
Kunst & museumjournaal (English ed.) 1993, v. 5, no. 2, p. 53-58, ISSN
Van Winkel, Camiel.
The crooked path : patterns of kinetic energy = Der gekrümmte Pfad :
Formen kinetischer Energie.
Parkett 1992, no. 33, p. 118-128, ISSN 0256-0917.
Art in America 1996, v. 84, no. 4, Apr, p. 86-93, ISSN 0004-3214.
Transparencies [book review].
Kunstwerk 1989, v. 42, no. 3, Sept, p. 106-108, ISSN 0023-561X.
Canadian art 1993, v. 10, no. 4, winter, p. 40-45, ISSN 0825-3854.
Winkel, Camiel van.
Blinde figuren = Blind figures.
Archis 1994, no. 12, Dec, p. 62-73, ISSN 0921-8041.
Jeff Wall: Figures & Places -- The Museum für Moderne Kunst in
Frankfurt am Main
Carnegie International Survey 1999
Tate Modern Exhibitions Between Cinema and a Hard Place - Jeff
Frances Loeb Library Jeff Wall A Selected Bibliography
Jeff Wall: Figures & Places: Selected Works from 1978-2000
Jeff Wall Exhibition at the Contemporary Art Gallery of the Art Tower
Mito (ATM), in Mito (Ibaraki Pref.).
Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, München
(1) THE ERNA AND VICTOR HASSELBLAD FOUNDATION PRESS RELEASE - Göteborg
March 8, 2002
(2) A Conversation with Jeff Wall, Museo, Volume 2, Spring 2000