Jeff Wall
Canadian, born 1946

The Flooded Grave, 1998–2000

Silver dye bleach transparency; aluminum light box
89 15/16 x 111 in. (228.5 x 282 cm)
Promised gift of Pamela J. and Michael N. Alper; Claire and Gordon Prussian Fund for Contemporary Art; Harold L. Stuart Endowment; through prior acquisitions of the Mary and Leigh Block Collection, 2001.161

The Flooded Grave

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Jeff Wall’s photographic images, which often have the formal clarity of documentary photography, are, with few exceptions, staged or constructed artifices. The Flooded Grave is the result of nearly two years of work. The landscape represented here comprises photographs taken in two Vancouver cemeteries over the course of several months. The image of the ocean bottom was created from photographs of a living aquatic system, which Wall created in his Vancouver studio, with the aid of marine-life specialists, in a tank made from a plaster cast of the actual grave. In the finished work, the two “worlds” are merged at the water line. Shooting multiple pictures and assembling them into an almost seamless unity, Wall is able to produce images with an uncanny sense of dreamlike hyperrealism.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

AIC, Inaugural Modern Wing Exhibition, May 16–September 7, 2009. (Gallery 188 & 189)

Publication History

Whitney Moeller, “The Flooded Grave,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 29, 2 (2003), pp. 90-91 (color ills.).