Jeffrey “Jeff” Wall, OC, RSA (born September 29, 1946) is a Canadian artist best known for his large-scale back-lit cibachrome photographs and art history writing. Wall has been a key figure in Vancouver’s art scene since the early-1970s. Early in his career, he helped define the Vancouver Schooland he has published essays on the work of his colleagues and fellow Vancouverites Rodney Graham, Ken Lum and Ian Wallace. His photographic tableaux often take Vancouver’s mixture of natural beauty, urban decay and postmodern and industrial featurelessness as their backdrop.

Jeff Wall, After the Invisible Man, 1999, Transparency in LIght box

Jeff Wall, After the Invisible Man, 1999, Transparency in LIght box

Jeff Wall is recognised as one of the most innovative and influential artists working today. The exhibition JEFF WALL Photographs currently being shown at Federation Square, is the first Australian survey of his work  and brings together twenty-six photographs to present an overview of his outstanding achievements featuring key major works from over three decades of artistic and photographic innovation. Large-scale and luminous, his photographs have rewritten nearly every convention of photography. Wall’s outstanding body of work has played a decisive role in establishing photography as the major contemporary art form it is today.

Jeff Wall The Destroyed Room, 1978,  Transparency in light box

Jeff Wall The Destroyed Room, 1978, Transparency in light box

Jeff Wall is widely acknowledged as one of the most inventive artists of the 20th & 21st centuries. His approach to photography is diverse, ranging from photographs presented as illuminated colour transparencies in light boxes, black and white prints and the more recently colour prints to intimate small-scale photographic observations. JEFF WALL Photographs will present key iconic works including: The Destroyed Room 1978, A Sudden Gust of Wind (After Hokasai) 1993, After ‘Invisible Man’ by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue 1999-2000, Night 2001 and recent works such as Knife throw 2008, Boy falls from tree 2010 and Ivan Sayers, costume historian, lectures at the University Women’s Club, Vancouver, 7 Dec. 2009. Virginia Newton-Moss wears a British ensemble c.1910, from the Sayers’ collection. 2009.


Jeff Wall, Sudden Gust of Wind, 1978, Transparency in light box

Wall’s photographs are diverse, ambitious and embrace an expansive curiosity about photography, art, and the picture-making possibilities of both today. His tableau-scale photographs are based on first hand observations of everyday situations and incidents reconstructed by means of what the artist calls a ‘cinematographic approach’. Their size and photographic quality attract attention and offer the chance to revel in a near documentary imaginative photographic moment

Jeff Wall speaking about his own work, influences and techniques


Watch the Jeff Wall Documentary above and answer the following questions;

  • What does Jeff Wall state are his major influences?
  • What painting is Jeff Wall’s photograph ‘The Destroyed Room’ Based on?
  • What elements and principals of art is this painting based on? List them.
  • Why does Wall state he uses light boxes? How do they work?
  • What does Wall mean when he speaks about the ‘photographic truth’ ?

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