WALL, Jeff

Author Tags: Art, Photography

"His work encompasses the heroic and the banal, the kitsch and the lyrical, the epic and the miniature." -- Melissa Denes, The Guardian

Sometimes regarded internationally as one of the world's leading contemporary artists, Jeffrey David 'Jeff' Wall is a photoconceptualist who was born in Vancouver on September 29, 1946. As of 2015, he has called Vancouver home for all but four years of his life. His art has resulted in exhibitions at venues such as the Tate Modern, MoMa and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Wall studied at UBC and the Courtauld Institute in England (where he was exposed to the work of Degas, Manet and Gericault). He then taught at the Nova Scotia College of Art for a year before returning to Vancouver to teach at SFU (1976-1987) and UBC (1987-1999).

ArtsNews named him one of the world's 10 Best Living Artists and he was touted as "Canada's most famous living artist" by the Globe & Mail newspaper in 1999. Wall will reputedly spend up to a year composing a single photographic tableaux but many of his huge, backlit Cibachrome transparencies (photographs) of contrived scenes, indoor and outdoor, leave the average Joe and Jill scratching their heads, wondering what the fuss is about.

A major retrospective of Jeff Wall's work, Jeff Wall Photographs 1978-2004, featured 50 works at the Tate Modern art museum in London in 2005.

With text by Aaron Peck, an accompanying book-length catalogue for a new exhibit at the Audain Gallery in Vancouver, Jeff Wall: North & West (Figure 1 $25), explores the themes of history and memory. In a nutshell, "Urban landscapes constantly change but the remnants of the past remain and history’s influence never ends." Nearly all the images were created in and around Vancouver.


Jeff Wall (London: Phaidon Press, 1996).

Jeff Wall: North & West by Aaron Peck (Figure 1 2015) 978-1-927958-48-3 $25
64 pages

[BCBW 2015] "Art"