JEFF WALL "OUTBURST", 1989

Jeff Wall (b.1946) is a Canadian conceptual photographer best known for his striking images that appear spontaneous yet are in fact elaborately staged.  

Born in Vancouver, where he still lives today, Wall received his MA from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1970. During this era, Wall was influenced by conceptualism's spirit of experimentation and minimalism's use of industrial materials while focusing on photography. By the end of the decade Wall established his signature approach of displaying color transparencies over light-boxes, using a material typically used in advertising in banal locations such as bus shelters.  

Using a light-box heightened the importance of color and created a dramatic effect when presented in galleries. He earned international acclaim for this innovative and subversive approach. Presentation aside, Wall was an important early adopter of digital-imaging technology, which has since revolutionized the medium of photography. 

As for image-making, his subject matter commonly addressed socio-political issues or referenced feminist critical theory, while exploring both portraiture and narrative.  

Wall's images combine elements of cinema, painting, and literature into what he refers to as "cinematography". One of Wall's defining characteristics is what he refers to as "near photography" -  staged photographs that mimic documentary photographs in their style and clarity. 

"Outburst" is a paradigm example of Wall's conceptual photography practice. Upon first glance this image appears to be a candid moment captured by a documentary photographer, although it is meticulously staged. Under harsh florescent lighting, in a packed sweatshop, an angry boss aggressively berates an employee. During the 80's in particular, Wall sought to expose Capitalism's negative impact on society and the implicit gender inequalities that it reinforced.

Due to the complexity of his practice, and his international reputation, Jeff Wall's artworks do not frequently come on the secondary market. When they do, they are frequently in the mid six-figure range. This is an iconic image, in a relatively small edition, and thus a rare opportunity to acquire an accessible work by this master of photography. 

Examples of this work can be found in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), The International Center for Photography (NYC), the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Whitney (NYC), and the V&A (London) to mention a few. 

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Additional images available by request.

"Outburst"

Canada, 1989

Silver dye bleach process color print (Cibachrome)

Signed, dated, and numbered verso

From an edition of 25

18”H 24”W (image)

27”H 32.5”W (framed)

Very good condition


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