Jeff Wall is a leading contemporary Canadian photographer whose work is concerned with ideas about the nature of images, representation, and memory. His influential large-scale photographs involve constructing elaborate mis-en-scènes and appropriate the visual language of advertising in their use of backlit transparencies and large scale.
He makes large-scale colour images that seem to capture people engaged in everyday life, but are in fact largely staged. The ‘cinematographic’ reconstructions of everyday moments, fiction, and art history, he refers to as 'near documentary’.
These are “pictures whose subjects were suggested by my direct experience, and ones in which I tried to recollect that experience as precisely as I could, and to reconstruct and represent it precisely and accurately,” he said of his process. I wanted to exaggerate the artificial aspect of my work as a way to create a distance from the dominant context of reportage, the legacy of Robert Frank and the others,” Wall explains.
In 2012, a print of his image Dead Troops Talk broke auction records at Christie’s and became the third most expensive photograph ever sold.