Storytellers: Jeff Wall and Edward S. Curtis
This article investigates how select works by contemporary artist Jeff Wall (b. 1946) compare in subject and style to those by early twentieth-century photographer Edward S. Curtis (1868–1952). Curtis serves as a significant predecessor for Wall, because the issues of factuality and staging in what Wall calls his “near documentary” style are central both to Curtis's reputation and to Wall's process. Wall's photography, in its similarity to Curtis's work, simultaneously contends with current sociopolitical issues of class and race while emphatically recalling photographic precedents. Likewise, Curtis's carefully composed photographs interpret the fraught realities of Native cultures in order to re-picture an American past. This examination of the two photographers' analogous interests initiates a new approach not only to Wall's work, but also to how “artistic” photography is defined in both the early and late twentieth century.
Egan, Shannon. “Storytellers: Jeff Wall and Edward S. Curtis.” Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation 29.3 (2013): 216-245.