A dad and his daughters, loving life in New York City

Wednesday, March 7

Jeff Wall at the MoMA

They always had me wanting more, these 41 big, brilliant photographs by Jeff Wall that are currently being shown, in all of their dramatic, backlit glory, on the sixth floor of The Museum of Modern Art.
Not that these works are in any way aesthetically unsatisfying—far from it. The compositions, the lighting, the incredible detail, the inherent interest of the subject matter itself... it all works together in a way I don't really have the vocabulary to express. As my photographer/artist friend Fred Cray said: Wall's stuff resonates.

No, what I wanted more of was the story behind these images: who these people were, what they were thinking, how their lives got them to there, to that exact moment when Wall snapped his shutter. But of course, there is no "real" back story. Wall's photographs, as journalistic as they can seem, are totally staged by the artist, which to me makes their intense immediacy all the more impressive. (There is a lengthy "artistic" back story, however, as most of these are inspired by classic paintings, which Wall discusses in a rich and informative slide show here).

An Eviction. Storyteller. The Destroyed Room. A Sudden Gust of Wind. Sunken Area. Mimic. Diagonal Composition. Volunteer. A View From An Apartment. A ventriloquist at a birthday party, 1947. There is great breadth and depth to this exhibit, and Debbie and I both loved it. The show runs through May 14.

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