- Jeff Wall
- Blind Window No. 2
- transparency in lightbox
- 149.9 by 185.4 by 29.5cm.; 59 by 73 by 11 5/8 in.
- Executed in 2000, this work in number 1 from an edition of 5, plus 2 artist's proofs.
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
Thierry de Duve, et al., Eds., Jeff Wall, London 2003, p. 183, illustration of another example in colour
Exhibition Catalogue, Oslo, Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Jeff Wall: Tableaux, 2004, p. 37, illustration of another example
Heidi Naef and Theodora Vischer, Eds., Jeff Wall: Catalogue Raisonné: 1978-2004, Göttingen 2005, p. 220, no. 97, illustration of another example in colour, and p. 406, illustration of another example
Michael Fried, Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before, New Haven and London 2008, p. 92, no. 53, illustration of another example in colour
Exhibition Catalogue, Dresden, Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen and Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Jeff Wall: Transit, 2010, p. 69, illustration of another example in colour, and p. 107, illustration of another example
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Charles Baudelaire, ‘Windows’ in: Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen, Paris 1869, p. 77.
Enlarged to an imposing scale and possessing a complexity that rivals historical salon painting, Jeff Wall’s Blind Window No. 2 is characteristic of the artist’s meticulous and innovative photographic method. In the present work, concrete surfaces, bars, boards, cracks and grouting evince intricate abstract compositions out of the simple geometry of horizontal and vertical lines to create a captivating tension between subject matter and abstraction. Wall’s pioneering photographic practice is notable for its two idiosyncratic approaches: cinematographic and documentary. The ‘blind’, hermetically sealed constructed pictorial world in Blind Window No. 2 innately belongs to Wall’s cinematographic approach, which examines the constructs of invention and reality. Executed in 2000, the present work is from an important three-part series that meditates on the leitmotif of the blind window and denotes a high point in Wall’s illustrious oeuvre.
Profoundly inspired by Charles Baudelaire’s ‘prose poems’ – a poem as a means to invoke imagery rather than deliver a narrative structure – Blind Window No. 2 lyrically, and quite literally, depicts the Baudelairian concept that when one looks “from the outside into an open window one never sees as much as when one looks through a closed window” (Charles Baudelaire, ‘Windows’ in: Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen, Paris 1869, p. 77). The ‘blind windows’ in this intriguing trilogy of works are furnished with wood boards or impenetrable darkness, they are ‘closed windows’ and serve to make one aware of a surface which one usually gazes through. The motif of the blind, or Baudelairian ‘closed’ window proliferates in some of Wall’s most important works: in one of the artist’s earliest images, Picture for Women (1979), the concealed windows hermetically seal off the room from the outside world, in Insomnia (1994) the wooden slats that obscure the view from the window intensify the picture’s oppressive nature and in Morning Cleaning, Mies ven der Rohe Foundation, Barcelona (1999) Wall depicts the glass wall to the inner courtyard covered in soapy bubbles, partly veiling Georg Kolbe’s sculpture Der Morgen. The windows in these works, present yet blind, underline Wall’s extraordinary compositional dexterity and conceptual acuity.
During a study trip through Spain, Wall first happened upon the idea of transferring a form of presentation with strong commercial and advertising connotations to the arena of fine arts. The vehicle for doing so was the large back-lit transparencies used for advertisements. As the artist describes, “just at that moment I saw an illuminated sign somewhere, and it struck me very strongly that here was the perfect synthetic technology for me. It was not photography, it was not cinema, it was not painting, it was not propaganda, but it has strong associations with them all” (Jeff Wall, Selected Essays and Interviews, New York 2007, p. 193). Indeed, Blind Window No. 2 masterfully draws upon each of these faculties to create an entirely novel and illuminating piece that so delicately treads the boundary between representation and abstraction; and photography, painting and poetry.