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Thread: Jeff Wall in the WSJ (with his Linhof)

  1. #11

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    Re: Jeff Wall in the WSJ (with his Linhof)

    Thanks DarinB !

    I immediately recognized that scene in the first photo. I used to dirt bike out there twenty years ago. We used those hills as land marks in navigating.

    The irony is that that area was all surveyed and parceled out in a land scam in the 1970's.
    There are street and lots already marked out. So, the moment he's trying to capture happened in that spot forty years ago.
    The desert has been reclaiming the land ever since.
    I do enjoy the photograph.


    EDIT: looks like he's using a fairly pedestrian Rodenstock 135mm Sironar-N in Sinar clothing. No magic there.

  2. #12

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    Re: Jeff Wall in the WSJ (with his Linhof)

    richardman, you can read Michael Fried's book, where he gushes about his personal friend Wall....
    Personally, I am more interested in Photography that has some meaning to it, some content, vs work that intended to be entirely void of meaning, or emotional content. Bores me to tears... other people can like it but its not for me...
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  3. #13

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    Re: Jeff Wall in the WSJ (with his Linhof)

    Jeff Wall is a great photographer. He is true to the medium. He of course "produces" his photographs instead of "taking" them. He is successful, showes in museums and sells his work for nice prices. So does Alec Soth. Those guys have all the glory a photographer can wish for, so why the envy ?

  4. #14
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Jeff Wall in the WSJ (with his Linhof)

    I think reality is so much richer a subject than we can possibly fathom and it lends itself well to still photography. Thus I don't see a need to make up cinema style simulated scenes, nor appreciate photos thereof, no matter how much time and money made them. The act of expressing a concept or idea with a photo I think is better achieved as simply as possible. I'd pursue another medium if simulation were my mo. Honestly if plenty of other people enjoy it, good for them, it's just not my thing and I don't envy.

  5. #15

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    Re: Jeff Wall in the WSJ (with his Linhof)

    Quote Originally Posted by Gudmundur Ingolfsson View Post
    Jeff Wall is a great photographer. He is true to the medium. He of course "produces" his photographs instead of "taking" them. He is successful, showes in museums and sells his work for nice prices. So does Alec Soth. Those guys have all the glory a photographer can wish for, so why the envy ?
    Gudmundur, this is exactly the point.... I don't think Jeff Wall is great at anything, except perhaps marketing. He is not at all "true" to the medium.

    These conversations go on and on because we haven't defined what photography is. Some folks come from a commercial background, where it is all about 'getting the shot'. My history includes studying with mentors who valued how "deep" an image is, how close one can get to a portrait of someone that reveals as much of who they are as possible. This remains my bias. Jeff Wall is after absolutely no emotional content whatsoever. He is successful at that; but viewed from my bias, he is a total failure. It all depends on what one is after, how something is judged.

    Another point you make is that he is successful financially. We would all like to be successful in this way, but it isn't a photographic criteria, IMO. There are plenty of truly superb photographers who never made a dime. Of course, judged by a commercial photographer, they might think that this statement is nuts.

    It all has to do with what we think photography is.

    I'm not envious. I would not want to be Jeff Wall, a person who makes work that is about nothing. I still want to be happy at the end of my life that I live a life worth living.
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  6. #16
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Jeff Wall in the WSJ (with his Linhof)

    So people who go down different paths than you, Lenny, don't have lives that are worth living?
    You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.
    ― Alexander Den Heijer, Nothing you don't already know

  7. #17
    おせわに なります! Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    Re: Jeff Wall in the WSJ (with his Linhof)

    So people who go down different paths than you, Lenny, don't have lives that are worth living?
    +1

    Like I said earlier, I'm not a big fan of his work, but I would never say that his work has no content, or that it is about nothing. I'm sure it is about something to him and to many, many others.

    It is what it is.

  8. #18

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    Re: Jeff Wall in the WSJ (with his Linhof)

    Quote Originally Posted by Lenny Eiger View Post
    ....I would not want to be Jeff Wall, a person who makes work that is about nothing...
    ....but, his work **IS** about something. The article even explains in depth what he's trying to convey in the featured photo....

    ???

  9. #19

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    Re: Jeff Wall in the WSJ (with his Linhof)

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter J. De Smidt View Post
    So people who go down different paths than you, Lenny, don't have lives that are worth living?
    Well, maybe I'm too tired to post. That's not what I am saying. I was explaining to Gudmundur why I wasn't envious.

    I don't like Mr. Wall's work, there is a party of me that doesn't consider it photography, it is something else. It is some sort of conceptual thing that is supposed to contain no emotion. If he's happy with that, great.

    I was saying that to judge a photo, you have to define the criteria first. There are many types of photography being discussed here, from commercial to nature to landscape and more, and one can't judge photographs without specifying what set of criteria one is using. I was up front about what I called "my bias". It doesn't mean its the only set of criteria one can use.

    I think life is about learning, and attempting to live it to its fullest. For me, that includes being able to make deep connections with the world outside my own physical being. I am not that interested in commodity... or even Twitter. That is also a bias. By those criteria, if I was all about photographs that have no meaning, then I would feel unsatisfied.

    Everyone gets to look at their own life and consider whether its worth living or not. Its for them to judge, certainly not me, I don't think I have any particular claim to getting anything right. I've been doing a lot of revelation lately. I am finally understanding the way the financial part of the art world works. If I knew this as a young person I would never have started. I can't imagine encouraging another young person to pursue a career in photography, any more than I would a career in dance, music or any of the other fine arts. It's too bad because I think our culture benefits greatly from these endeavors.

    I have ceased all efforts to get my work in galleries or museums. It's just for me, and those who happen to visit my house, or my web site, which I will update one of these days. I have no illusions about any financial reward. I suppose I'm not even sure that its worth another second of my time. Our culture has gone somewhere else, and apparently doesn't need or want another voice for a way to look at life with some meaning (or at least one type of that). One of these days I will probably just disappear from here...
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  10. #20
    Ray Van Nes
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    Re: Jeff Wall in the WSJ (with his Linhof)

    I saw the light boxes back in the 80's at the Art Gallery of Ontario. A friend with me kind of summed it up - "Well, they're big." It is conceptual art with all the obscure messages that go along with it. Much modern art is this way where you need to read a tome to understand and if you ask for an explanation you get "artspeak" which is the equivalent of speaking in tongues. One is meant to feel stupid as one has missed the point.
    If I have to work at it that hard - not interested. Nice camera though.

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