Dasein, Red Elephant.

Too much of a good thing: Jeff Wall’s Photography

Milk, 1984 (Transparency in lightbox 1870 x 2290 mm)

redelephant: I like Jeff Wall's pictures. While some photography seeks to capture the ethereal moment, document, suspend and expose it in its entirety, Jeff Wall seems to approach photography as a form of pictorial art, giving it thematic relevance beyond the image's context. Using large-scale photographic tableaux mounted in lightboxes, staged scenes, designed sets and amateur actors, each photograph is carefully shot with a unified composition schematic.

Notice how the left side of Milk seems to emanate a soothing air, from the use of cooling colors such as green and white in the bush and vertical indoor wall.This constrasts starkly with most of the image, which is bathed in rough, heaty brown hues, dripping from the brick grid walls to the man's shoe and wet, dark hair. Tension is remarkly concentrated in two parts of the picture: The man's posture, his clenched forearm with veins showing and the spurting geyser of white from the bottle of milk. There's something going on. The action is apparent but somehow, the careful representation of form makes the picture seem devoid of any context, removing the possibility of developing a definitive interpretation.

See more of Jeff Wall's work in his recently concluded retrospective at the Tate Modern.


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  1. I\’m not skilled in terms of photography, but I think digital cameras will allow more similar works such as of Jeff Wall\’s – since the brilliance of digital cameras is that you can take many of such experimental shots without having to worry about wasting film.

    When it comes to myself, I don\’t get any feeling looking at this particular work (you\’re right when you say it seems devoid of any context), but it just looks pretty darn cool to me.

    | Reply Posted 12 years ago
  2. * M. BAQUET says:

    Is there any Jeff WALL exhibition organised now worldwide ?

    | Reply Posted 9 years, 4 months ago

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