Date: June 29 to September 23
Artist: Jeff Wall
Venue: Art Institute of Chicago
In 1977, when he was 31, the Canadian artist Jeff Wall went to Europe, where he spent a lot of time looking at the old masters in the Prado. Was it still possible, he wondered, to make representational art with anything like the same power today? He was traveling by bus at the time and at each terminal he would notice those backlit light boxes that display ads. So today Wall is famous for making very large transparencies mounted in steel light boxes lit from within, so that the pictures glow like a movie screen. He arrived at photography by way of conceptual art, and some of his work has the feel of small conceptual points inflated to large dimensions. But the best pictures have power and mystery.