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Preserving Jeff Wall : the inherent preservation concerns of Jeff Wall's early transparencies in lightboxes

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posted on 2021-05-24, 11:27 authored by Samantha Ackerley
Canadian artist Jeff Wall (b. 1946) created, between 1978 and 2007, over 130 silver dye-bleach transparency prints mounted in lightboxes. These works typify a growing problem currently faced by collections of contemporary fine art that contain works that use unstable materials and increasingly obsolete technology, both of which directly affects the nature of the works’ presentation and preservation. This thesis focuses on Wall’s early works, created between 1978 - 1985, a period during which he was exploring how best to utilize the lightbox technique. Using the works The Destroyed Room, Double Self-Portrait, and Steves Farm, Steveston as extensively illustrated case studies, this thesis focuses on the previously undiscussed evolution of the presentation and installation of Wall’s lightboxes as well as an exploration of the “objectness” of his works which encourages an awareness and fuller understanding of the lightboxes as physical and complex objects.



Master of Arts


Photographic Preservation and Collections Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type