Wall has said, 'The only way to continue in the spirit of the avant-garde is to experiment with your relation to tradition' (Artnews, Nov. 1995, p.222). In 1977, during a visit to the Prado in Madrid, he was moved by the paintings of Velázquez and Goya. He felt that, due to what he saw as the dominance of photography and film, it was no longer possible for modern artists to paint like the great masters. Seeking a new method to represent everyday life pictorially, Wall found a suitable medium in advertising hoarding lightboxes, and made his first backlit transparencies in 1978. Early works, such as The Thinker (1986) based on Rodin's sculpture of that name, referred directly to great works in the history of art. Recently, he has more actively explored the literary and filmic aspects of his art. The majority of his pieces are set in Vancouver and contain references to art, the media, and socio-economic problems.
'Jeff Wall', exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 1995Lee Robbins, 'Lightbox, Camera, Action!', Artnews, vol.94, no.9, Nov. 1995, pp.220-3
Kerry Brougher, 'Jeff Wall', exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles 1997