Sunday, February 25, 2007

Jeff Wall @ MoMA

Jeff Wall's big retrospective show is up now at MoMA. He managed to get himself two articles in the NY Times this weekend as well as one in Time Magazine. One here and one several pages longer here - The Luminist:

"Jeff Wall’s large color transparencies mounted on electric light boxes fill 10 galleries at the Museum of Modern Art with a pulsating and purposeful, if slightly sedate, optimism. Alluring to the point of transfixion, the 41 works measure as much as 10 feet high or 16 feet across. These are outright gorgeous, fully equipped all-terrain visual vehicles, intent on being intensely pleasurable while making a point or two about society, art, history, visual perception, the human animal or all of the above...

Moreover, they combine the stillness and artifice of painting with the light and heat of film; the awkward immediacy of theater with the slick impersonality of advertising. The people are often nearly life-size, so at times it seems that we might almost step into the unnaturally radiant landscapes and interiors they inhabit.

With their Donald Judd-like stainless steel boxes and Dan Flavin-like fluorescents, Mr. Wall’s glowing images turn the photograph into a Minimalist object. They also push the nearly trompe l’oeil illusions of Photo Realist painting to extremes, without so much as lifting a paint brush. In other words, the works make the most of the most diametrically opposed art movements of the 1960s.

Yet the medium here is not so much the message as a magnet, one that snares our attention and compels us to sort through both the vivid details and the underlying layers of meaning, intention and process. You can emerge from the experience with a sharpened awareness of art’s ability to sharpen awareness — whether of the crushing effects of war, poverty and racism or of the communicative power of art."

No comments: