Artist Jeff Wall memorializes Boulevard

| April 28, 2022 | 0 Comments

LARCHMONT VILLAGE corner, at First Street, is featured in Jeff Wall photograph, “Parent child.”© Jeff Wall, Courtesy Gagosian

Given how often we shop and dine on Larchmont Boulevard, it might be considered the center of our own small universe. Who would have thought that the corner of First and Larchmont, the Bank of America corner, would become “Parent child,” an image captured by Jeff Wall, a widely collected photographer, and shown around the world?

Even more newsworthy, the large (7 foot by 9 foot) color photograph from 2018 will one day become part of the permanent collection of our neighboring Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Jeff Wall, the 75-year-old Vancouver artist, lives part time in Los Angeles. As reported in the March 9, 2015 “ArtCenter News,” Wall was drawn to the southland by the film industry’s special effects houses. He describes his photographs as “cinematographic” for the slice of life, or movie frame, aspect of his work.

WALL ON THE WALL: “Parent child” at Gagosian Beverly Hills, March 2022.

“Parent child,” 2018, was staged, as are all of Wall’s recent works. The photograph reconstructs an event that a friend of Wall’s experienced on Larchmont Boulevard. In a video interview recorded in 2019 when the work first was exhibited in Gagosian gallery’s New York location, Wall explains, “A friend of mine sent me a photograph of himself and his little daughter taken by someone else and said to me, ‘This looks like one of your pictures.’ And I thought, ‘Yes, it does look like one of my pictures,’ and it looks like a picture I’d like to make, because the child — his child — was not having a temper tantrum or an argument with her father. She just decided to take a pause, lie down on probably a quite warm sidewalk in a shadow … and the father was doing, as you see here, just pausing and contemplating the decision of his own child. And that gap between the consciousness between the two just seemed to me, ‘Yes, that’s the kind of subject I find interesting.’ I reconstructed the picture, which is something I do frequently.”

Wall’s “Parent child” photograph was on view recently at Gagosian in Beverly Hills as part of a 10-photograph exhibit marking Wall’s first Los Angeles show in almost 20 years. Previously, the work had been shown in New York City and London.

Permanent collection

Now, after achieving widespread fame, our Larchmont corner likeness will be coming to rest in the permanent collection at LACMA, says Michael Govan, the CEO and Wallis Annenberg director. Writing to us about the Larchmont Boulevard piece, Govan said: “Jeff Wall is an artist whose important work is in museums all over the world. We’re thrilled that our trustee Ashley Merrill, and her husband Marc, are offering this gift to LACMA, the first by Jeff Wall in our collection — especially because Wall made the image nearby the museum. Wall’s photographic images have a size and presence that speak to centuries of large-scale paintings that tell stories.

“But Wall’s images are more enigmatic; like this one, they can be imposing and monumental, but their subject is the complex psychology of everyday life. A neighborhood street corner we might pass daily becomes, for this artist, a site for contemplation and composition.”

Discussing her family’s gift to LACMA, trustee Ashley Merrill told the Chronicle, “I came across this image years ago online, and it really resonated with me as a parent who has had many of those trying yet comical parenting moments like the one in this photograph.

“When I saw it full-size at Gagosian Beverly Hills with Michael [Govan], that feeling was only amplified. Marc and I are thrilled it will end up at LACMA for future generations of parents and children to connect with.”

New LACMA building

The exact exhibition debut date at the museum is not set, but it most certainly will not be until the new LACMA building stretching above Wilshire Boulevard opens in or after 2024.

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