Jeff Wall

I have often wondered with Jeff Wall about his fascination with spending so much time and effort to constructing elaborate scenes that don’t always say very much. In contrast to the work of the Essop brothers, much of Wall’s work is meant to look deliberately staged. This seems to be one of his fundamental points, that he creates a fiction that is obviously not real.

There is a lot to admire in his work but often the technical achievement seems to overshadow the actual content. Since each is a stand-alone project, there is no overall theme to his work. This tends to give each image a more enigmatic air than the Essops, as each has to be viewed and interpreted in isolation. This did however give me the opportunity to construct a reality based on his construction for my level 1 ‘Context and Narrative course’.

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I find the idea of constructing images to get across an idea, or point of view, perfectly acceptable.

Much of my exposure comes from a book I was given as a present. This contains photographs from throughout his career, not all of which are constructs. When I opened this book for the first time, inside is a slip of paper declaring “This book is a record of an exhibition that did not take place”. The website of the Audain Art Museum in Canada has no mention of this exhibition, which makes me believe that the insertion is real. It seems totally in line with Wall’s work for the entire exhibition to be constructed.


Peck, A. and Greening, S. E. (2016) Jeff Wall: North & West. (s.l.): Figure 1 Publishing.

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