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We laughed, we cried, we danced, we barked…

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Jeff Wall Photographs

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


01 May 2013 to 28 Jul 2013

Curator: Gary Dufour (Art Gallery of Western Australia)

About the exhibition

Jeff Wall is one of the most renowned photographers working today. His innovative practice has played a key role in establishing photography at the forefront of contemporary art.

The two strands that interweave throughout Wall’s career were represented in the 27 photographs selected for this major exhibition curated for Australia. One aspect was small-scale, thoughtful observations of things such as a clipped branch or washcloth that show Wall’s attentiveness to what he calls the ‘obscure, unswept corners of everyday life’. The second aspect was the more technically complex and constructed images. These pictures, usually enlarged to life scale, are inspired by scenes of modern life, cinematic conventions, artistic genres in painting as well as photography, and literature. Wall’s photographs have a detail and clarity that seem to promise revelation and yet, as the artist notes, his images of the everyday touch on a ‘something undisclosed’ – that is not easy to define.

Jeff Wall was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1946. He studied Fine Art at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver from 1964 to 1970, majoring in painting, sculpture, photography and conceptual art. He moved to London in 1970 to attend the Courtauld Institute of Art, and returned to Vancouver in 1973. He did not complete any art works between 1971 and 1977. Travelling in Europe in 1977, Wall encountered again the paintings by Manet, Goya, Velázquez, and others that had always fascinated him and recognised a connection between that work and possibilities he had sensed in photography. He began to make his ‘cinematographic’ photographs as transparencies displayed in light boxes in 1977, and completed his first successful picture, The Destroyed Room, in 1978. Since that time Wall’s work has been the subject of many major exhibitions and publications. He began making traditional black & white prints in 1996, and inkjet prints in 2000.

Jeff Wall Photographs was organised by the Art Gallery of Western Australia in association with the MCA. It was on display at AGWA 26 May – 10 September 2012, then travelled to the National Gallery of Victoria for exhibition 30 December 2012 – 17 March 2013.