Monday, February 26, 2007

The Photographs of Jeff Wall

For many years the Museum of Modern Art has chosen a single photographer to give a large exhibit to exclusively of this photographer’s work. The current choice is Jeff Wall.

He is the photographer most responsible for the contemporary trend of making photographs the same size as painting as well extending the concept of being engaged in the image at multiple stages. Regrettably making large scale photographs is beyond the economic means of many people who are excited about making photographs. However extending observation to directing, recreating and rethinking is free to anyone who wants to engage in this process.

Wall entered photography with a background in painting and filmmaking. Many painters and filmmakers work in a style where everything is recreated rather than going from direct observation and recording that moment. Much of photography’s history is made up of photographers who relied on direct observation. Some of them never even saw printing as part of the process. Ansel Adams was one of the first to make a detailed argument as to why photographers should print with his theory of Previsualization.
Jerry Uelsmann took this a step further with his theory of Postvisualization. The photographers Clarence John Laughlin, Jerry Uelsmann,Gene Meatyard,Duane Michaels and Sandy Skoglund have produced brilliant bodies of photographs working in a style where the final image starts as an observation but finishes as a directed image.

By exploring scale as well as extending the process beyond observation, Wall has expanded photography’s boundaries for all photographers.


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