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b. 1946, Canada

Jeff Wall Biography

Canadian artist Jeff Wall’s photography rejects the notion of the photograph as a witness, choosing instead to recreate elaborate, staged mise-en-scenes from memory. These are often events and situations that Wall has experienced over a long time period, as opposed to the instant, ‘in-the-moment’ nature of taking a single shot. He is most famous for his large, back-lit Cibachrome photographs (which have earned him criticisms for not being a ‘real’ photographer) yet his works certainly capture the immediacy and emotion of traditional photography. They provide Wall with the freedom to recreate, allowing the emotions and moods he saw to be reflected more thoughtfully and purposefully. This practice of re-creation is critical to how Wall’s pieces work, as it allows them stand apart from traditional photography.
 
This move away from the conventional is found in every aspect of Wall’s work. Mounting the photographs in lightboxes and enlarging them to a very large scale is all part of exaggerating the artificial process of the creation of his pieces. To further highlight this, Wall draws on a number of artists for compositional strategies, such as Edouard Manet and Diego Velazquez, and notably Katsushika Hosaki in his dramatic 1993 work A Sudden Gust of Wind (After Hosaki).
 
While it might appear that his works are loaded with social commentary or are observational, for Wall they are neither scathing political messages nor romanticised ‘pretty’ imagery. Rather he seeks to best represent the space in which these events are taking place, letting the viewer pick up on the emotional weight of the featured incident. This is especially clear in his more recent works, such as Listener (2015), which shows a shirtless man on his knees in the dirt surrounded by a group of ominous looking men; a recognisable scene to anyone watching the news. Yet there is no indication of context, only the emotional atmosphere of the situation.
 
Wall has exhibited in solo exhibitions in Canada, the U.S., and Europe; notably the Whitechapel Gallery, London (2001); Tate Modern (2005); and the Art Institute of Chicago (2007). He has also received recognition in being awarded the Hasselblad Award in 2002 and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2006.
 
Jeff Wall works and lives in Vancouver, Canada.

Jeff Wall Featured Artworks

View All (17)
Sapling by Jeff Wall contemporary artwork photography
Jeff Wall Sapling, 1999 Transparency in light-box
67.7 x 58.5 x 13.8 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
Trap set by Jeff Wall contemporary artwork photography
Jeff Wall Trap set, 2021 Inkjet print
166 x 180 x 6.9 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
Men move an engine block by Jeff Wall contemporary artwork sculpture, photography
Jeff Wall Men move an engine block, 2008 Gelatin silver print
143.5 x 182 x 5 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
Picture for Parkett by Jeff Wall contemporary artwork photography, print
Jeff Wall Picture for Parkett, 1997 Silver gelatin print
48 x 51.5 x 3.5 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
Torso by Jeff Wall contemporary artwork photography, print
Jeff Wall Torso, 1997 Silver gelatin print
52.5 x 46 x 3.5 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
Intersection by Jeff Wall contemporary artwork photography
Jeff Wall Intersection, 2008 Colour photograph
202 x 252 cm
White Cube Contact Gallery
Parent child by Jeff Wall contemporary artwork photography
Jeff Wall Parent child, 2018 Inkjet print
220 x 275 cm
Gagosian Contact Gallery
Peas and Sauce by Jeff Wall contemporary artwork photography
Jeff Wall Peas and Sauce, 1999 Transparency in lightbox
60.6 x 72.4 x 16.5 cm
Marian Goodman Gallery Contact Gallery

Jeff Wall Current & Recent Exhibitions

View All (9)

Jeff Wall Represented By

Gagosian contemporary art gallery in 980 Madison Avenue, New York, USA Gagosian Athens, Basel, Beverly Hills, Geneva, Gstaad, Hong Kong, Le Bourget, London, New York, Paris, Rome, San Francisco
Kukje Gallery contemporary art gallery in Seoul, South Korea Kukje Gallery Busan, Seoul
White Cube contemporary art gallery in Mason's Yard, London, United Kingdom White Cube Aspen, Hong Kong, London, New York, Paris, West Palm Beach

Jeff Wall In Related Press

Jeff Wall Takes Photography Into a Painterly Realm Related Press Jeff Wall Takes Photography Into a Painterly Realm 15 May 2019, The New York Times

Rumination and risk-taking, in equal measure, mark Jeff Wall’s spellbinding new exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea. Since the 1970s, the restless 'conceptual photographer' has made single, lar

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At Zabludowicz Collection, artists test the parameters between authenticity and artifice Related Press At Zabludowicz Collection, artists test the parameters between authenticity and artifice 28 April 2017, Wallpaper*

However diverse, all of these works demand a closer look. They urge the viewer to slow down, take stock and re-evaluate their certainty—a valuable quality in this day and age.

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Jeff Wall at White Cube Hong Kong Related Press Jeff Wall at White Cube Hong Kong 12 January 2016, ArtAsiaPacific

Careers spanning several decades understandably undergo vast changes and reinventions. However, at no expense of relevance, Canadian artist Jeff Wall’s artistic philosophy has stayed steady for nearly 50 years. His output of large-scale, photographic tableaus since the 1970s has remained deliberate, calculated and fiercely respectful of his...

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Making photos, not taking them; the distinction in 'Perfect Likeness' Related Press Making photos, not taking them; the distinction in 'Perfect Likeness' 8 July 2015, LA Times

Last year a Silicon Valley researcher estimated that more than 1.5 billion new photographs are posted every day on just the larger social media platforms, such as Facebook, Reddit and Snapchat. A new exhibition at the UCLA Hammer Museum proposes that, in response to this visually numbing fact, a distinctive strain of photography has slowly...

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