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Thread: Jeff Wall's New Show in Washington, DC

  1. #1

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    Jeff Wall's New Show in Washington, DC

    This evening, PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) in the U.S. aired this segment about Canadian photographer Jeff Wall's new show. The show started on October 21 and runs through March.


    How photographer Jeff Wall’s pictures duplicate the 'magic' of large-scale paintings




    The show is at the Glenstone Museum just outside Washington. Apparently privately owned, the video says that the museum opened fully in 2018. It sounds a bit like a cross between New York State's Storm King Art Center and Dia: Beacon.

    I saw Wall's 2007 show at MoMA in New York, which I thought was remarkable. Glenstone says that this is his largest U.S. show since. Press release:

    POTOMAC, MD, September 22, 2021 – On October 21, Glenstone Museum will open a five-decade survey exhibition by Jeff Wall (b. 1946, Vancouver, Canada) in Room 2 of the Pavilions. Comprising nearly thirty pictures made between 1978 and 2018, the exhibition charts the development of an artistic practice that is widely regarded as having changed the perception of photography as a contemporary art form. Works on view will feature every photographic process in the artist’s oeuvre, from backlit transparencies to large-scale inkjet color prints.

    This presentation marks the first monographic exhibition of the artist’s work in the Washington, D.C. area since 1997, and is his largest exhibition in the United States since a mid-career survey at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2007. It will be on view at Glenstone until March 2022.

    “Jeff Wall’s work has influenced generations of artists and shaped the discourse around photography today. His immersive, intricate recreations of scenes from everyday life manage to be both familiar and enigmatic,” said Emily Wei Rales, director and co-founder of Glenstone. “We are extraordinarily proud to offer visitors this rare opportunity to see a comprehensive survey of the artist’s work, showing the remarkable range and complexity of his art.”

    Jeff Wall’s approach has expanded the common understanding and definition of pictorial art by making photographs with the visual power and conceptual weight afforded to painting. Relatively early in his career, Wall parted ways with the convention of street photography and the impulse to capture moments on camera as they occur. Inspired instead by memories and imagined scenarios, he carefully plans and constructs his pictures, scouting locations, casting actors as subjects, and organizing the shoots with the rigor of a movie production.

    The exhibition at Glenstone opens with a series of color and black-and-white pictures in which landscape features prominently. Works on view include Steves Farm, Steveston, 1980, which depicts tract housing encroaching on rural farmland, and the more recent I giardini/The Gardens, 2018, a monumental triptych photographed in the lush setting of the Villa Silvia Pellico outside Turin, Italy.

    Additional galleries contain the earliest works Wall made in the studio—including The Destroyed Room, 1978 and Picture for Women, 1979—as well as his first pictures featuring urban settings. In an innovative move designed to draw in the viewer, he presents these pictures as transparencies in backlit lightboxes, a format borrowed from the world of advertising.

    Also included in the exhibition are several large-scale works including A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai), 1993, a contemporary adaptation of a print from Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji (ca. 1830-1832).

    Jeff Wall currently lives and works between Vancouver and Los Angeles. He has been the subject of multiple monographic exhibitions worldwide, including at the Tate Modern, London (2005); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007); the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; (2014); and the Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany (2018).

    On the occasion of the exhibition, Glenstone will publish a fully illustrated catalogue featuring an introduction by Emily Wei Rales, an original text by art critic and historian Barry Schwabsky, and color plates of the works in Glenstone’s collection.

    About Glenstone

    Glenstone, a museum of modern and contemporary art, is integrated into nearly 300 acres of gently rolling pasture and unspoiled woodland in Montgomery County, Maryland, less than 15 miles from the heart of Washington, DC. Established by the not-for-profit Glenstone Foundation, the museum opened in 2006 and provides a contemplative, intimate setting for experiencing iconic works of art and architecture within a natural environment. The museum includes its original building, the Gallery, as well as additional structures opened in its 2018 expansion: the Arrival Hall (LEED platinum), the Pavilions, and the Café (both LEED gold).

    Glenstone is open Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors are also invited to explore the grounds or participate in self-guided sculpture tours. Admission to Glenstone is free and visits can be scheduled online at: www.glenstone.org. Same-day visits can be scheduled online.

    Students 12 and older, active-duty military members, and museum professionals enjoy guaranteed entry for themselves plus one guest upon presenting a valid identification card at the Arrival Hall. Advanced registration is not required for visitors in these categories. Passengers who arrive at Glenstone on the Ride On bus (route 301) also will be offered guaranteed entry.

    At Glenstone, masks are currently required except when visitors and associates are outdoors and more than six feet apart from other households. For a list of current visitor guidelines, please review the Plan Your Visit page on www.glenstone.org.
    Last edited by r.e.; 9-Nov-2021 at 04:41.

  2. #2
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Jeff Wall's New Show in Washington, DC

    Big for sake of big. So what. I like these PBS mini-segments and find them interesting - this one too. It aired here tonite. But what does it prove except it isn't painting, and just wants to be; isn't really photography either - more a hybrid of stage production and digital alteration, Hollywood style. I'd prefer to see a hecka lot more detail in those pictures to warrant big. And I'd rather see an actual Photorealist painting any day of the week; a big budget stunt just can't do the same thing. But that's my take. Someone else might have completely different taste. Jeff evidently enjoys doing it; so if he can afford it, guess that's justification itself. These sizing trends go in predictable cycles. Huge prints are everywhere right now. It's just a matter of time till people tire of it. The next trend will probably be Minox contact prints instead, placed on museum walls with insect pins.
    Last edited by Drew Wiley; 8-Nov-2021 at 20:21.

  3. #3

    Re: Jeff Wall's New Show in Washington, DC

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    I'd prefer to see a hecka lot more detail in those pictures to warrant big.
    Which of Wall's pictures have you seen in person Drew?

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    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Jeff Wall's New Show in Washington, DC

    I think Drew you should look into Jeff Wall a bit more before you are so critical. His approach to photography is very unique and refreshing, spoiler alert he takes his time.

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    BIATHLONEIL's Avatar
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    Re: Jeff Wall's New Show in Washington, DC

    That is certainly and interesting application of photography. Pretty damn cool.
    "A closed book teaches no one".

    -Neil the Wheel

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    Re: Jeff Wall's New Show in Washington, DC

    I'd like to know why Wall has never made a film. It's clear that if he wanted to, he could, both financially and technically. Vancouver, where he lives, and Los Angeles, where the PBS video says he also spends time, are major film production centres. As I understand it, he works with a set and lighting crew, and can spend days building a set. Why does he draw the line at one frame instead of 24?

    In the late 2000s, I saw two exhibits for photographers that I didn't know a lot about: Jeff Wall's 2007 show at the Museum of Modern Art, and Robert Frank's 2009 show The Americans at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both were major eye-openers. People who decide to see the Washington show may find it helpful to do some reading in advance about how Wall makes his pictures.

    By the way, that's a younger Jeff Wall in the pictures at 00:19 and 00:58 of the video.

  7. #7
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Jeff Wall's New Show in Washington, DC

    Jeff not only takes , days but even months to set up a scene and get to the point of making an exposure. He is a major photographic influence for many, many people.

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Jeff Wall's New Show in Washington, DC

    My issue isn't it being uninteresting - it is interesting. I've been following his work for awhile; that PBS segment wasn't by any means my first encounter. But it's really neither fish nor fowl. I guess if a person is into stage production techniques ala Suburbia Genre they might gravitate toward it. To me it has about as much philosophical appeal as looking at taxidermied lion and rhino specimens through a Smithsonian diorama window. I'm not denying it as an art genre; but I prefer actual "discovered" photography. I could care less about influence. Sure, a herd will follow, if that many independently rich people can be found. But's it's exactly the opposite direction I'd ever want to go. Concoction. Anti-photography; something else. If one wants to be a painter instead, just be a real painter. At least the end result won't fade to non-existence in twenty years, or perhaps far sooner with the backlit transparency examples (fluorescent tubes output UV).

    But Chester is correct - Wall's work has never turned up around here; and I sure wouldn't go out of my way to view it, like taking a flight somewhere. But there is simply no way on that size scale it's going to appeal to my own instincts as a printmaker, even if 8x10 film was once involved. Apparently he's now more into MF digital capture anyway. And a number of persons who have viewed his work in person have spoken of the presentation as disappointing (too big to hold detail well, and many manipulation artifacts apparent up close). For me, anything much bigger than 4X is pushing it unless one does really back off.

    But the degree of manipulation turns me off in general. It just doesn't ring true. Call that jaded if you wish. That's OK with me. A Broadway play production wouldn't appeal to me either. My two cents worth. And I certainly respect any rebuttal to my viewpoint. We're all different; otherwise, life would be pretty dull. I don't like eggplant or okra either.
    Last edited by Drew Wiley; 9-Nov-2021 at 14:29.

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    Re: Jeff Wall's New Show in Washington, DC

    If you plan to visit Glenstone, be aware that ALL visits are scheduled, in order to avoid crowding. This has been the case since they opened; it’s not COVID-related. They were typically booked weeks in advance, but that may have changed; it’s been a couple years since I was there.

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    Re: Jeff Wall's New Show in Washington, DC

    Quote Originally Posted by drj52 View Post
    If you plan to visit Glenstone, be aware that ALL visits are scheduled, in order to avoid crowding. This has been the case since they opened; it’s not COVID-related. They were typically booked weeks in advance, but that may have changed; it’s been a couple years since I was there.
    What did you think of the grounds and exhibition areas? Worth seeing in themselves?

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