Jeff Wall (B. 1946)
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Jeff Wall (B. 1946)

A wall in a former bakery

Details
Jeff Wall (B. 1946)
A wall in a former bakery
transparency in lightbox
46 7/8 x 59 ½in. (119 x 151cm.)
Executed in 2003, this work is number six from an edition of six
Provenance
Johnen Galerie, Berlin.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2010.
Literature
M. Fried, ‘Being there. On two pictures by Jeff Wall’, in Artforum International, September 2004, p. 54.
T. Vischer & H. Naef (eds.), Jeff Wall: Catalogue Raisonné 1978-2004, Göttingen 2005, no. 116, p. 426 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 426 and illustrated in colour, p. 259).
G. Moure, Jeff Wall: Works and Collected Writings, Barcelona 2007 (another from the edition, illustrated in colour, unpaged).
M. Lewis, J.-F. Chevrier, T. de Duve, A. Pelenc and B. Groys, Jeff Wall: The Complete Edition, London 2009 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 177).
Jeff Wall Transit, exh. cat., Dresden, Galerie Neue Meister, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, 2010, no. 1 (detail of another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 31, another from the edition illustrated, p. 130).
Exhibited
New York, Marian Goodman Gallery, Jeff Wall, 2004 (another from the edition exhibited).
Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Jeff Wall: Tableaux, 2004 (another from the edition exhibited).
Basel, Schaulager, Jeff Wall - Photographs 1978-2004, 2005-2006 (another from the edition exhibited). This exhibition later travelled to London, Tate Modern.
Tel Aviv, The Genia Schreiber University Art Gallery, The Towering Inferno, 2014.
Special notice

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Rachel Boddington
Rachel Boddington

Lot Essay

‘[I]...make photographs that put documentary photography’s factual claim in suspension, while still creating an involvement with factuality for the viewer. I [try] to do this in part through emphasising the relations photography has with other picture making arts, mainly painting and cinema, in which the factual claim has always been played with in a subtle, learned and sophisticated way’ (J. Wall, quoted in T. Vischer and H. Naef, (eds.), Jeff Wall: Catalogue Raisonné, 1978-2004, Basel 2005, unpaged).

With its haunting depiction of singed traces on a long-forgotten ceiling, A wall in a former bakery, is a powerful example of Jeff Wall’s celebrated photographic practice. Executed in 2003, the year after he was granted the prestigious Hasselblad Award recognising major achievements in photography, the work demonstrates the artist’s fascination with the gritty reality of contemporary life. Wall's artistic practice involves the use of large-format transparencies, mounted in aluminium boxes and illuminated from behind with his use of the lightbox technique. The direct effect of the lighting in combination with the sense of scale affords a majestic quality to Wall's pictures. In A wall in a former bakery, the angle of his camera is unrelenting, spolighting the grimiest of unobserved details with piercing exactitude. The work is fraught with a suspended tension, with the smouldering mahogany hue of the burned wall tactile upon the surface of the lightbox – a ghostly cipher for the building’s past.

Wall is one of the most influential photographers working today, exhibiting in major institutions world-wide since the 1970s. His outstanding retrospectives at the Tate Modern, London, 2005 and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2007, were pivotal moments in his career, acknowledging the key role he played in establishing photography as a contemporary art form. Wall began working with lightboxes during the 1970s, a medium that challenged the boundaries of traditional photography. The artist explains, ‘[I]...make photographs that put documentary photography’s factual claim in suspension, while still creating an involvement with factuality for the viewer. I [try] to do this in part through emphasising the relations photography has with other picture making arts, mainly painting and cinema, in which the factual claim has always been played with in a subtle, learned and sophisticated way’ (J. Wall, quoted in T. Vischer and H. Naef, (eds.), Jeff Wall: Catalogue Raisonné, 1978-2004, Basel 2005, unpaged). Wall’s approach to photography is grounded in the great collage of everyday life, a combination of absolutely concrete and specific things created by no one and everyone, channelled through the hyper-reality of the lightbox. By integrating truth and artifice in this way, Wall engages in a boundless exploration of human existence.

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