As Jeff Wall remarked about this retrospective at the press conference, it’s most likely the biggest show he’ll ever have. And, indeed, with seventy-two works “Jeff Wall: Photographs, 1978–2004” brought together more than half of the artist’s oeuvre. Given that most of us were used to seeing no more than a few of Wall’s large light-box transparencies at a time, one might have wondered how the individual pieces would hold up in such numbers. Thanks to the architecture of Herzog & de Meuron, and above all to the artist’s precise sense of size and scale, the works did not detract from each other but retained their own auras of sublimity.
The show started off with The Destroyed Room, 1978—a free paraphrase of Délacroix’s Death of Sardanapalus—which was first exhibited in a shop window (Nova Gallery) in Vancouver in 1978; it closed with A view from an apartment, 2004–2005. In between lies a
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