Canada's Most Acclaimed Photographer

September 20, 2013 | John Elmslie

Comments (2)


Jeff Wall is without a doubt Canada's most acclaimed photographer. Do you know his work? He's the one who makes giant transparencies out of his photographs and puts lights behind them like subway ads. Here's a view of an installation at the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia in 2012 (photo: Dr Marcus Bunyon).


Here's one of Wall's early successes, Double Self-Portrait, from 1979.


Gilda Aloisi

A portrait of Wall in 2012 by Gilda Aloisi (for Vice Magazine).



I looked at Jeff Wall's Wikipedia page to see when he was born (1946, Vancouver) and was interested to see a comparison between Wall's Picture for Women (1979)


and Manet's Un bar aux Folies Bergère (1882).



Jeff Wall, A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai), (1993)

Katsushika Hokusai, Yejiri Station, Province of Suruga (ca. 1832). Woodcut.

Sudden detail

Here's a detail from Sudden Gust of Wind. Wikipedia says this photograph took one year to plan and complete and required a combination of over 100 photographs. British artist David Hockney said that digital photography has moved photography closer to painting because "the hand has entered the camera".


It must have been a wonderful moment for Wall when the Museum of Modern Art in New York offered him a career retrospective. The catalogue for the MOMA show has Wall's After "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue (2001) on the cover.



Michael Fried is one of our most respected art critics and historians. In his 2008 book Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before Fried has a lot to say about Wall, based on talks he has had with the artist.



Jeff Wall Works and Collected Writings contains a long essay on Wall, featuring all of his photographs. It also contains Wall's essays on Dan Graham, Manet, Rodney Graham, Roy Arden and On Kawara.



This Phaidon monograph Jeff Wall: the complete edition is another excellent introduction to his work.


Wall is represented by Marion Goodman, one of New York's most prestigious gallerists (Gerhard Richter, Thomas Struth). Goodman has a nice selection of Wall's work on her website: including Boxing (2011) above.