Project 9: Analyse the Response of Others

The Flooded Grave – Jeff Wall


Even though I had studied some of Jeff Wall’s work on a previous OCA photography course and therefore knew something about his work, I learned a great deal more from this exercise.


The first thing I had to do was to find a higher resolution image to study, as the illustration in World History of Art was very small. This made it much easier to analyse the image and compare my own views to what Honour and Fleming were saying. For example the sea creatures in the grave were indistinguishable in the book, but became much clearer from the high-resolution image.


When I do annotations and exercises for this course I try, whenever possible, to see the original image on which to base my judgement. It was not possible to do so in this case and I would really like to see the lightbox image if I could. I feel that I have missed out on the scale of the image as that could have an effect on how one views it. Nevertheless, I do think that I have done the next best thing by accessing the high-resolution version. This is probably only applicable to photographic/computer-generated images. It would be for far less appropriate for painting as it would be very difficult to judge texture, brushstrokes, et cetera.


From this exercise learnt a lot more about Jeff Wall and his manner of working. I also learnt about his influences, it was really interesting to read others writing about the similarities with or influence’s of paintings by Courbet, Cézanne, Velazquez and Goya.


 Diego Velázquez [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It also gave me another insight into textbooks such as Honour and Fleming of how much they can (and can’t) include in a book spanning such a considerable period of time. Their comments and interpretation of individual images are, of necessity, much smaller than print journal articles or books on particular artists or images. It has left me admiring just how much they manage to pack into such a small space!


My notes on the project can be found here: Flooded Grave No Photo


Following comments from my Tutor I have made minor amendments and added a concluding paragraph to the essay. The amended version can be seen here: Project 9 Flooded Grave no pic