The photographic works of Canadian artist Jeff Wall
(b. 1946)—staged, apparently quotidian scenes presented in large-format light boxes—have persistently preoccupied art historians and critics. In this volume, Stefan Gronert,
curator for contemporary art at the Kunstmuseum Bonn, tracks the multilayered references to the history of painting that Jeff Wall, himself an art historian, integrates into his work. For example, the title of The Thinker (1986) is itself a reference to Rodin; Wall, however, transfers the figure in the typical Thinker pose to a contemporary urban setting and introduces the "grotesque" element of a knife in the protagonist’s back, which in turn alludes to Dürer. Using 17 examples from the late 1970s until today, Gronert traces the complex strategies of appropriation and reinterpretation of famous works from art history that Jeff Wall’s pictures render in a manner that seems so timelessly contemporary.