The Bridge (1980) transparency in light box - Jeff Wall
The Bridge (1980) transparency in light box - Jeff Wall

From Book to Bid - Jeff Wall's The Bridge

His landscape photo is at auction tonight but why does he think a cemetery is the ‘perfect’ type of landscape?

“I make landscapes (or cityscapes) to study the process of settlement as well as to work out for myself what the kind of picture we call a ‘landscape’ is," says Jeff Wall of the photographic series he began in the 1980s. "This permits me also to recognize the other kinds of picture with which it has necessary connections, or the other genres that a landscape might conceal within itself.” 

One of these landscape photos is Lot 28 in the contemporary art evening sale at Phillips, New York tonight. The 1980 cibachrome transparency in a fluorescent lightbox is number 3 from an edition of 3 and is expected to fetch between $500,000 and $700,000. 

Describing it, and what he sees as the definition of a landscape photograph Wall says: “Most evidently, a picture tends towards the generic category of landscape as our physical viewpoint moves further away from its primary motifs. I cannot resist seeing in this something analogous to the gesture of leave-taking, or, alternatively of approach or encounter. This may be why a picture of a cemetery is, theoretically at least the ‘perfect’ type of landscape. The inevitable approaching, yet unapproachable, phenomenon of death, the necessity of leaving behind those who have passed away, is the most striking dramatic analogue for the distant - but not too distant- viewing position identified as ‘typical’ of the landscape. We cannot get too distant from the graveyard.”

With that rather sobering thought in mind we'll wish you good luck if you're bidding on this or any other lots at Phillips tonight. But remember, if you can't stretch to a Sotheby's, Christie's or Phillips sale quite yet there are plenty of beautiful and affordable multiples and prints at Artspace, including this great Jeff Wall print

Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about Wall we have two great books in the store: A Contemporary Art Series Jeff Wall book here, the more in depth Jeff Wall The Complete Edition here, and finally our own Collector’s Edition featuring the print, Fortified Door here. And if you're about to dip your toes into the world of collecting, you'll definitely need this. Happy hunting!