Art 597.01W Art Writing on Gender and Identity Issues

Blog posts for the Summer I 2015 class.

Jeff Wall - The Destroyed Room

The Destroyed Room, 1978. Jeff Wall.

The Destroyed Room, 1978. Jeff Wall.

Despite a cursory knowledge of Jeff Wall's work, I never paid close enough attention to it until about a year ago when I began to truly embrace tableaux-style work. I've always had a thing for the 1970s "New Color" era, so it is of no surprise I found his work interesting. However, it was in researching it further – especially upon reading his plentiful writing – that I became truly inspired and impressed by his work.

To see "The Destroyed Room" in print does it little justice. Made to be viewed as a large, backlit transparency, it is properly viewed only in a gallery setting. I have not had the fortune of doing this, but I do have the fortune of possessing a strong imagination, and I recognize the advertising light boxes from which Wall took partial inspiration from.

It took a few viewings and a few readings for the image to truly impact me. It was the historic context and an image of its original display (in a window, visible to sidewalk traffic) that I realized its impact. Not only was this a clever and complexly conceived image, but it was placed in a relevant environment where it could startle viewers.

To me, this image has it all: Immediate impact, followed by substance as the viewer explores it, bold placement, relevant presentation in all regards (the references of the light box to advertising and to Dan Flavin's work), and it is somehow original even though it is inspired by a Delacroix painting.

"The Destroyed Room" not only inspires me with its intended message about violence, but also with the amount of work and insight that went into making the image and then presenting it. It's a mighty high bar, but one I find it useful to try to jump toward in my own growth as an artist.