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Jeff Wall

Born in: 1946

Canada

Biography

Born in Vancouver in 1946, Jeffrey known as "Jeff" Wall is a Canadian photographer and visual artist. He is a graduate of Vancouver University and the Courtauld Institute in London where he studied Art History. He completed his thesis on the "Dada" movement. In addition, he taught art history at the Vancouver University. 

It was in 1978 with "Destroyed Room", a photograph inspired by the oil on canvas "La mort de Sardanapale" (1827) by Delacroix (1798 - 1863), that Wall was first noticed in the art world. 

Wall depicts daily life through photography. Through this medium, the artist crystallizes political, economic and social relations all the while making references to famous paintings. His works are comparable to those of photographers Martin Parr (1952) and Nan Goldin (1953). His photographs are inspired by documentary photography. Like photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia (1951), Wall blurs the line between fiction and reality. 

Each photograph is minimal and elaborated like a painting by a great master. The models are actors who pose for several hours, over several days in order to bring to life the photographer's vision. Every detail is calculated. The artistic references are numerous and allow the viewer to recognize and better understand the work in question and the artist's reflection. Wall reinterprets and modernizes the paintings of masters such as Caravaggio, Manet and Delacroix. Wall's photographs continue the lineage of these paintings and rewrite their history for the modern world. Jeff Wall documents reality through his art. 

By appropriating and reinterpreting famous paintings, Wall makes an observation about the society in which we live and highlights its shortcomings. In the work “Mimic" for instance, he illustrates racism. This photograph, taken in 1982, depicts a couple and a man of Asian origin walking by one another. The man of the couple looks at the Asian man and makes a slanty-eye gesture with his finger in order to make fun of the second man's origins. This photograph was inspired by a scene Jeff Wall saw in the street.

The photographs are often large format and exhibited like advertisements, but the artist also produces small format photographs. Wall plays with various formats and explores other photo shooting techniques.

The artist leads the spectator to question their perception of reality and the world around them. 

Jeff Wall is currently exhibiting in Athens at the Georges Economou Collection.

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