See what's on at the

Browse What's On

– Highlights

highlight
Mca Collection

MCA Collection

29 Mar - 31 Dec

highlight
Biennale Of Sydney

20th Biennale of Sydney

18 Mar - 05 Jun

highlight
Exhibition

Telling Tales

02 Jun - 09 Oct

Find out more about the

About the MCA

– News from inside the MCA

ARTBAR and Vivid meet again

Dipped in colour and drenched in light, we hand the paintbrush over to Huseyin Sami to curate this month’s MCA ARTBAR as it collides with Vivid Sydney. more

Go-go Dance: from 60s Twist to Sydney

Let’s twist! Artist Bridie Connell talks history of 60s Go-go dance & where it’s at in Sydney today more

Visual arts sector United over funding cuts

Australia Council’s recent announcement that 65 organisations will no longer receive funding under its Four-Year Funding program (previously Key Organisations), delivering a major blow to our contemporary visual arts sector. more

View the Collection

Browse Collection

– Spotlights from the collection online

highlight
Volume One: MCA Collection

Works from the MCA Collection

highlight
Collection Artist Interviews

Watch our latest interviews in the MCA Video Portal

highlight
Joint acquisitions by MCA and Tate

The Program promotes Australian art globally, helping Australian artists reach new audiences.

News – JEFF WALL Photographs: the works behind the works

Posted on May 27, 2013 by Tristan Deratz in Curatorial.

Jeff Wall’s photographs are often densely referential, drawing upon sources as disparate as art history and outdoor advertising.

Two of his best known works, The Destroyed Room (1978) and A sudden gust of wind (after Hokusai) (1993), both on display at the MCA for Jeff Wall Photographs, appropriate significant works from art history.

Based on Hokusai’s 1830-1833 colour wood block print Ejiri in Suruga Province (a sudden gust of wind), Wall’s work A sudden gust of wind (after Hokusai) (1993) is an exemplar of the photo-montage techniques that he has often used in his practice.

Combining more than 100 individual photographs to create the work, Wall attempted to recreate the Hokusai work faithfully, while recontextualising it into a contemporary moment.

The work is described by Wall as a cinematographic photograph, where the careful composition of the scene, as well as the scale and the use of a light box, draws a deliberate comparison to 18th and 19th century painting as well as cinema and advertising.





Images:

Left:
Jeff Wall
A sudden gust of wind (after Hokusai) 1993
transparency in light box, unique state
Tate, London
Purchased with the assistance from the Patrons of New Art through the Tate Gallery Foundation and from the National Art Collections Fund, 1995
image © the artist

Right:
Hokusai
Ejiri in Suruga Province (a sudden gust of wind) 1830-1833
Colour woodblock
The British Museum, London
Sourced from Burnett, C., Jeff Wall, Tate Publishing, 2005, p.49.
image © The British Museum, London

Jeff Wall, 'A sudden gust of wind (after Hokusai)' (1993)
Hokusai, 'Ejiri in Suruga Province (a sudden gust of wind)' (1830-1833)

The first light box transparency that Jeff Wall made, The Destroyed Room (1978) is a ‘cinematographic’ photograph, carefully constructed in the studio.

A reference to Eugène Delacroix’s 1827 painting, Death of Sardanapalus, Wall’s work uses its large scale, strong light and oblique composition to locate itself in an uneasy place between historical painting and advertising.

Delacroix’s work, itself inspired by Byron’s play, shows the death of the Assyrian king Sardanapalus, who ordered the killing of his servants, the destruction of his palace and his own death after hearing of the defeat of his armies in battle.

The Destroyed Room uses Delacroix’s brutal spectacle as the platform for his own critique of the systems of meaning that control how we understand both commercial and artistic images.

Images:

Left:
Jeff Wall
The Destroyed Room 1978
transparency in light box, AP
Collection of the artist
image © the artist

Right:
Eugène Delacroix
Death of Sardanapalus 1827
oil on canvas
Musée de Louvre
Image acquired under public domain creative commons.

Jeff Wall, 'The Destroyed Room' (1978)
Eugène Delacroix, 'Death of Sardanapalus' (1827)
Your mugshot

Tristan Deratz
– Digital Content Producer

Tristan works in the zone where digital interaction touches curatorial, art and institutional practices, creating new and innovative content across the MCA’s digital platforms.

He has a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hons 1) from Sydney College of the Arts, and studied at the Universität der Künste Berlin. Having come to the MCA from Artspace Visual Arts Centre, Sydney, Tristan is also a practicing artist who has exhibited in both Sydney and Berlin.

Learn more