MoMA
Jeff Wall. Milk. 1984
Jeff Wall

Milk

1984
Not on view
Medium
Silver dye bleach transparency; aluminum light box
Dimensions
Image: 6 ft. 2 1/2 in. x 7 ft. 6 1/4 in. (189.2 x 229.2 cm) Lightbox: 6 ft. 8 1/2 in. x 8 ft. 1/2 in. x 8 3/4 in. (204.5 x 245.1 x 22.2 cm)
Credit
Acquired through the Mary Joy Thomson Legacy
Object number
480.2004
Copyright
© 2015 Jeff Wall

Wall began making large backlit transparencies in the late 1970s. He had experimented with filmmaking, and he felt that staging scenes for the camera could radically broaden the potential of still photography. Another touchstone for his large pictures has been the grand theater of human figures in Western painting since the Renaissance.

Wall's ambitious project began to take shape in the early 1980s when he embarked on a series of photographs devoted to the everyday lives of people at the margins of society. Many of the pictures (including Milk) were derived from incidents that Wall observed and subsequently adapted and restaged with nonprofessional actors.

In Milk the harsh, impersonal geometry of the background transforms the scene into a stage, and the man's clenched posture and the liquid explosion distill the violence of anger into a vivid symbol. Instead of evoking the continuity of experience, the arrested image snatches the figure out of time altogether, rendering him a static emblem of distress.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 57
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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource