Lot 144
  • 144

Jeff Wall

50,000 - 70,000 GBP
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  • Jeff Wall
  • Diagonal Composition II
  • transparency in lightbox
  • 63 by 74 by 22cm.; 24 3/4 by 29 1/8 by 8 5/8 in.
  • Executed in 1998, this work is number 5 from an edition of 8.


Johnen + Schöttle, Cologne
Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich


Exhibition Catalogue, Gothenburg, Hasselblad Center, Jeff Wall: Photographs, 2002, n.p, illustration of another example in colour
Thierry du Duve, Arielle Pelenc, et al., Jeff Wall, New York and London 2003, p. 167, illustration of another example in colour
Rolf Lauter, Ed., Jeff Wall: Figures & Places, Selected works from 1978-2000, Munich, London and New York 2001, n.p, no. 12, illustration of another example in colour


Colours: The colours are fairly accurate in the catalogue illustration. The dark grey border is in fact paler grey in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. When illuminated, upon very close inspection there are approximately ten minute scratches to the grey border of the image. There is a faint rub mark to the centre of top edge of the lightbox, and light wear in places along the lower right and bottom turnover edges. There are light handling marks and further light rub marks scattered in places along all four side edges. There is a tiny yellow media accretion to the bottom edge of the aluminium box towards the left corner.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

"The symbolic meaning of natural forms, made visible in things like turbulence patterns or compound curvatures, is, to me, one of the primary means by which the dry intelligence of optics and mechanics achieves a historical self-reflection, a memory of the path it has traversed to the present and future separation from the fragile phenomena it reproduces so generously." (Jeff Wall, cited in: Exhibition Catalogue, Paris, Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Another Objectivity, 1989, n/p)

Jeff Wall is one of the most influential artists of the last fifty years, and whose work has established photography at the forefront of contemporary art. His carefully composed giant transparencies mounted onto light-boxes fuse the seductive radiance of a cinema screen with the physical presence of a Minimalist sculpture to explore the heart of darkness that lurks beneath the neon, media saturated façade of the late twentieth century.

Wall's early career in the late 60s was spent as a pioneer of and theoretical writer upon Conceptual art; and his work since has continued to engage with theories of representation and its social dimensions in all areas from traditional painting to documentary photography. His scenes appear naturalistic, almost throwaway, yet are carefully constructed down to the smallest detail. They contain cropped fragments of 'life' from which we are encouraged to ascertain and experience the unseen. As Wall has explained: "In the aesthetic of art photography as it was inspired by photojournalism, the image is clearly a fragment of a greater hole which itself can never be experienced directly. The fragment then, somehow, makes that whole visible or comprehensible, maybe through a complex typology of gestures, objects, moods and so on." (the artist quoted in: Arielle Pelenc, 'in correspondence with Jeff Wall' in: Thierry de Duve, et al., Jeff Wall, London 2003, p. 9) Thus his images assert a level of completeness that derives from their being informed by what is outside. Impregnated with suggestion and narrative, they are like symbolic microcosms that touch upon "the nature of the pictorial, its indwelling structure, its transcendental conditions." (ibid.)