One the eve of the opening, while fine-tuning the installation of nineteen recent works, Wall was receiving. He is tall, thin, thin-lipped, thick-haired, sharp-nosed, baby-faced. His draw is his intelligence, ever greased and cocked—“I always lived in my head”—and his manner is gracious and sharp. German television was expected momentarily. Standing by were Wall’s New York dealer Marian Goodman; his Munich dealer Rüdiger Schöttle; the exhibition’s joint organizers Catherine David and Richard Francis—she the commissioner of the 1997 Documenta at Kassel, he the chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, where the show kicked off; Tuula Arkio, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art at the Finnish National Gallery in Helsinki, next stop after Paris; various critics, including Thierry de Duve, who’s written what he calls “a very bizarre essay” about Wall for a new Phaidon book; and Wall’s gregarious wife Jeannette, whose pet name for this high-powered milieu is “the snakepit.”
So begins our Spring 1996 cover story. To keep reading, view a PDF of the entire article.