Trained as an art
historian, Jeff Wall has been working for over twenty-five years on his
expansive light boxes of staged scenes. These 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. One work on view here is set
in the Mies van der Rohe pavilion in Barcelona, Spain, an archetypal model
of twentieth-century domestic architecture. But instead of glorifying the
building, Wall highlights the necessary yet generally ignored support
staff that sustains this and other such monuments. He records in his photo
the cleaning of the pavilion, which is also symbolic of the cleaning of an
aging Modernism, the artistic tradition represented by this building and
whose roots date from the earlier part of this century.
Jeff Wall’s work has been widely exhibited for over thirty years. Recent 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 Landscape—Between 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 York (1999). Solo gallery exhibitions of Wall’s 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). Recent 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 d’art Contemporaneu, Castellon, and Mies van der Rohe Foundation, Barcelona (1999).
1970 University of British Columbia, Vancouver, M.A.
1970-1973 Courtauld Institute, London
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Jeff Wall (1997). Exhibition catalogue, texts by Richard Koshalek and Kerry Brougher.
De Duve, Thierry, and Boris Groys. Jeff Wall. London: Phaidon, 1996.
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany. Landscapes and Other Pictures: Jeff Wall (1996). Exhibition catalogue, texts by Gijs van Tuyl, Jeff Wall, and Camiel van Winkel.
Wall, Jeff. Interview by Els Barents. In Jeff Wall: Transparencies. New York: Rizzoli, 1987.