• Jeff Wall

    Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego | Downtown

    In painting, the tableau has traditionally been used to freeze a continuum of action into that exact, pregnant moment in which past and present come together to predetermine an inexorable future. It is a technique most commonly used in grandiose history painting (David’s The Oath of the Horatii, 1784, or The Death of Socrates, 1787) but also in smaller-scale genre works, such as Jean-Baptise Greuze’s overwrought family dramas. Most important, however, is the tableau’s innate overdetermination: its stagy mannerisms defamiliarize its formal machinations as much as they suck us into its narrative.

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