New York

Jeff Wall

Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

Mimicking the archaic mannerisms of traditional genre painting, Jeff Wall turns his camera on the nameless dispossessed. The large scale back-lit transparencies that result evade both the solipsistic dreariness that has come to characterize much recent “photography about photography,” and the formulaic drudgeries that frequently neutralize politically oriented efforts. If, as Wall remarked in a recent interview, he has managed to evade “the dream-world of art, to show something of the dirt and ugliness of the way we have to live,” he has done so less by documentary exposition than by a tautly managed rhetorical manipulation of the image and its conventions. Abundance, 1988, a photograph of two bag ladies rummaging through a box of discarded clothing, which Wall exhibited in New York last season, is effective precisely because its slickness and exaggerated theatricality undermine any pretense

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