TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT September 2003

PORTFOLIO: JEFF WALL

IF THE DIALECTIC OF ARTIFICE AND FACT HAS INFORMED JEFF WALL’S WORK FROM THE start, then his latest pictures tip the balance: away from the excruciating feats of stagecraft evidenced in an image like After Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, the Preface, 1999–2001 (which took Wall nearly three years to complete), and toward the documentary, or “near-documentary,” impulse that remains the other strong attractor in the photographer’s working dynamic. (Two of the four images in this portfolio are, for all practical purposes, “documentary”: observed, and then shot in a session or two at most.) Of course, just how much—or little—Wall fusses to achieve his ends is something he would rather we not think so hard about. For him, the point is the synthesis, the estranging synthesis. In Wall’s recollection of his own artistic self-invention that precedes these pictures [“Frames of Reference”], we discover

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