art on art

Maggie Nelson wrote Bluets under the influence of – amongst others – Joan Mitchell. Bluets is a good example on how art inspires more art, and on interconnectedness (which again verge at the literary term intertextuality) within a larger field of art, transgressing both genre and time.

The work below is an explicit re-staging of art:

A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai) (1993), Jeff Wall © Jeff Wall

Travellers Caught in a Sudden breeze at Ejiri (c.1832), Hokusai (1760-1849)

A Sudden Gust of Wind recreates or transplants the scenery from Hokusai’s woodcut series The 36 Views of Mt. Fuji into the setting of British Columbia. In order to achieve a seamless montage that gives the illusion of capturing a real moment in time, Jeff Wall needed over a year and 100 photos to stage the scene. Mt. Fiji is missing, but the figures’ poses and the movement of a stack of papers in the wind make it easy to recognize the famous work Sunshu Ejiri.

You might also remember me writing about Wall in an earlier post, another example of his interesting appropriations.

Appropriation is the intentional borrowing, copying, and alteration of preexisting images and objects. It is a strategy that has been used by artists and writers for centuries. Art on art: appropriation, intertextuality, collages – opens up for many kinds of readings, dependent on the reader/viewer’s competence and experience. It’s not like you cannot enjoy Wall if you haven’t seen Hokusai, or Nelson if you haven’t seen Mitchell, but knowing the references create a kind of surplus value. For the artist appropriating is also a way of making connections, becoming a part of the larger community, finding ones place in the greater world of art and artists.

A Sudden Gust of Wind (after Hokusai) (detail)

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Harold Rhenisch says:

    How beautiful! And interesting. Here’s the local volcano that Wall chose not to include in his picture:

    And here from the estuary of the Fraser River:

    And here’s the sanctuary again:

    Instead of those scenes, very close to Hokusai, he chose an industrial drainage dike, seemingly near the Vancouver airport, with what looks like a cranberry field to the left.

    In this context of choices, it looks like it was a deeply political statement about the struggle between wetlands, farmland, and urban development in Vancouver.

    As playful and self-reflexive as one expects from Jeff Wall!

    1. Sigrun says:

      Thank you so much for these great links.

      I’m reading a book on/by Wall, called Jeff Wall. Selected Essays & Interviews. In one of the interviews he says this about his own work: “Conceptual art was mostly interested in exploring social relationships; my work, on the contrary, is about photography. I make photography, not Conceptual art.”

  2. D. Greenwood says:

    Hi Sigrun,

    It’s an interesting notion, Andrei Tarkovsky seemed to do this sort of thing quite often but always in a very original way. Da Vinci was often an inspiration.


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