Jeff Wall (b.1946) adopts the nineteenth-century poet Baudelaire's famous description of one of his contemporaries as 'a painter of modern life' to describe his own very different work: huge transparencies mounted on to light boxes that diffuse a brilliant glow of white light evenly through his photographs of contemporary urban scenes and 'constructed' social situations. Wall is foremost among the pioneering artists who since the late 1960s have brought photography to the forefront of contemporary art. His constructed images employ the latest sophisticated technology in the creation of compelling tableaux, which are evocative of subjects ranging from Hollywood cinema to nineteenth-century history painting. When exhibited in their glowing light boxes they evoke both the seduction of the cinema screen and the physical presence of minimalist sculptures such as Dan Flavin's fluorescent light installations or Donald Judd's metal and Perspex wall reliefs. All of these elements - traditional figurative painting, cinema, Minimalism, Conceptual art, documentary photography - are consciously evoked and explored in Wall's work. Associated closely since the late 1960s with Conceptual artists such as Dan Graham, with whom he collaborated on The Children's Pavilion (1988-93), Wall has engaged at a sophisticated level with theories of representation and its social dimensions both as an artist and as a theoretical writer on contemporary art and culture.
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Thierry de Duve (Survey) has written extensively on modern and contemporary art, with an emphasis on the work of Marcel Duchamp and its legacy. A regular contributor to the journal October, he is Editor of The Definitively Unfinished Marcel Duchamp (MIT Press, 1991) and the author of Kant after Duchamp (MIT Press, 1995). He has taught in the US and France and lives and works between Belgium and France. Arielle Pelenc (Interview) is an art critic and curator who lives and works in France. She has written for Artefactum, Art Press, Parkett and Arts Magazine. Boris Groys (Focus) was born in East Berlin and studied at Leningrad University. He emigrated to the former West Germany in 1981 where he works as a freelance author and critic. He has held senior academic posts at universities in Germany, Russia and the US. He has been a contributor to Art in America; his books include The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship and Beyond (Princeton, 1992). Jean-Francois Chevrier (Update) is Professor of Contemporary Art History at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He has curated numerous exhibitions including: 'Another Objectivity' (with James Lingwood), Paris and tour (1989); 'Photokunst', Stuttgart (1989); 'Walker Evans and Dan Graham', Rotterdam and tour (1992-1994); and 'Oyvind Fahlstrom', Barcelona (2001). He was also Curatorial Consultant for Documenta X in 1997. For his Artist's Choice, Jeff Wall selected an extract from the Pensees (1658) of Blaise Pascal, the seventeenth century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist; and an extract from 'Troubles of a Householder' (1919) by Franz Kafka (1883-1924), the early twentieth-century German novelist, born in Prague, whose novels - published posthumously - include The Trial (1925) and The Castle (1926). Jeff Wall lives and works in Vancouver, where he is a Professor at the University of British Columbia. His writings, published in a number of journals and exhibition catalogues, explore socio-political and psychological meaning within modern pictorial media and avant-garde strategies.Review:
'The boldest, best-executed and most far-reaching publishing project devoted to contemporary art. These books will revolutionize the way contemporary art is presented and written about.' (Artforum)'A unique series of informative monographs on individual artists.' (Sunday Times)'Gives the reader the impression of a personal encounter with the artists. Apart from the writing which is lucid and illuminating, it is undoubtedly the wealth of lavish illustrations which makes looking at these books a satisfying entertainment.' (The Art Book)
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