Friday, June 29, 2007

Jeff Wall

The Art Institute of Chicago today begins an exhibition of the art works of Jeff Wall, an artist based in Vancouver Canada. Jeff Wall produces works in a format of photographic transparencies mounted in aluminum light boxes. The result is large often mesmerizing works of stunning luminosity. His use of light and color is exceptional and as he describes it "cinematographic". The photos are usually large and staged but the effect is one of lifelike realism. What makes Wall's work even more impressive is the resonance with works of 17th and 19th century masters from whom he often takes inspiration. In an illuminating talk yesterday evening, at an event inaugurating the exhibition, he described the initial impetus for many of his works as "accidents" of time or place. The muse seems to touch him randomly, not unlike many great artists. The result is often stunning and, while I did not appreciate some of his more pedestrian subjects, the best of his work is very good indeed. The current show was organized by the Art Institute in collaboration with The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. But as James Rondeau noted last night in his introduction of Jeff Wall the Art Institute is the only museum of the three that is able to exhibit Wall's art in context with those artists from whom his work is inspired and with which it resonates. My attendance at the exhibit, lecture and reception following yesterday evening was a delightful way to spend a few hours communing with the muses.

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