With a career spanning over three decades rich with artistic and photographic innovation, it is no wonder that Jeff Wall is recognized as one of the most influential and innovative artists working today. A major exhibition featuring 27 works by this stunning photographer and artist is currently showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
‘Jeff Wall Photographs’ includes many of Wall’s most recognized photographs, including large-scale works– luminous color photographs presented as transparencies in light boxes; black and white prints; more recent color prints; and intimate small-scale photographic observations.
Though he dislikes the term, Wall has been called the ‘father of staged photography’ due to his painstakingly constructed photographs. An image that has always remained in my mind from art history classes is Wall’s A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai) 1993. Based on The Thirty-six Views of Fuji, by the Japanese painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai, this single image is made up of elements from different photographs taken over a period of five months. Wall photographed actors in a landscape during similar weather conditions, resulting in an incredible image that bears strong similarities to staged classical paintings.
Traditional photography was focused on documenting a real life event “and that was considered the essential act,” Wall says. Other types of photography were considered secondary and not as important.
”I never agreed with that for all sorts of reasons many of which I don’t even understand myself,” he says. ”But it seemed to me that photography was more like the other arts than it wanted to be.”
The ‘Jeff Wall Photographs’ exhibition is on until 28 July and is a great opportunity to witness the work of a photographer who has made a great contribution to contemporary art.