Ocula MagazineContentsView All
Featured ContentView All
The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka at LACMA Ocula Report The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka at LACMA 18 Jan 2019 : Perwana Nazif for Ocula

The Jeweled Isle: Art from Sri Lanka at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (9 December 2018–23 June 2019) is billed as the first comprehensive survey of Sri Lankan art organised by a U.S. museum, with around 240 works—including decorative objects, textiles, photographs, and historical works from the museum's own collection of Sri Lankan...

Read More
Ellen Pau Ocula Conversation Ellen Pau Artist

A radiographer by training, Ellen Pau is a self-taught artist who emerged from Hong Kong's fledgling contemporary art scene of the late 1980s, when video was a comparatively nascent medium. In 1986, Pau co-founded Videotage—a non-profit organisation that specialises in the promotion and preservation of video and new media art. Pau has an...

Read More
Singapore Art Week: Exhibitions to See Ocula Report Singapore Art Week: Exhibitions to See 18 Jan 2019 : Tessa Moldan for Ocula

S.E.A. Focus, the new boutique art fair by STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, will take centre stage during this year's Singapore Art Week (19–27 January 2019). Running between 24 and 27 January 2019, 26 galleries will participate in the inaugural edition, showcasing modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art within a pop-up structure in...

Read More

Perhaps best known for his word paintings, American artist Christopher Wool's practice is centred around his continual reformations of painting and abstraction. Combining the aesthetics of graffiti and street culture with the legacies of pop and conceptual art, Wool has employed media and techniques as diverse as incised rollers, stencils, silkscreen printing, photography, replication and overlapping to explore the potential of painting during a time when many deemed it irrelevant.

Wool was born in 1955 in Chicago and moved to New York in 1969, where he studied painting and photography first at Sarah Lawrence College and later at the New York Studio School. Based in Manhattan's Chinatown for 25 years from 1976, Wool became a part of the downtown New York art and music scenes and befriended artists Robert Gober, Richard Prince, James Nares and Jeff Koons, among others. In the 1970s, downtown New York artists were mostly divided between neo-expressionist painting—as seen in the work of Julian Schnabel and Jean-Michel Basquiat—and conceptual and pop-influenced works like those of Cindy Sherman and Prince. Merging influences, Wool borrows from pop art techniques like the use of silkscreen printing, while utilising 1970s conceptualism's incorporation of language.

In 1986, Wool replaced the brush with the paint roller, a shift inspired by the way slumlords in his neighbourhood used the tool to give their properties an impression of having been wallpapered. For one early painting made with a patterned roller, Untitled (1987), Wool printed a vegetal motif in black enamel over a sheet of aluminium. From a distance, the repetitive imagery recalls a mass-produced design; instead of a seamless surface, however, the print is interrupted by smudges and an intentionally uneven distribution of ink. Repurposing a commercial tool for fine art purposes, Wool questioned the kind of traditional material and processes that define painting as a medium. At the same time, Wool's roller paintings somewhat parody the works of colour field painters such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, which were widely criticised as being decorative.

About a year later, Wool began making his iconic stencilled word paintings, conceived when he saw the words 'sex' and 'luv' graffitied on a white delivery van. Like his roller paintings, which lifted content from commercial wallpaper, Wool appropriates language from popular sayings, song lyrics, movies and mass culture for his word paintings. The text in 'HELTER' (Untitled [1988]), for instance, comes from the Manson murders ('Helter Skelter' was a term Charles Manson used to refer to a racial apocalyptic war), while 'YOU MAKE ME' (Untitled, [1997]) is taken from a Richard Hell album cover. Apocalypse Now (1988), his seminal word painting and one of the few that are titled, derives its name and text—'SELL THE HOUSE SELL THE CAR SELL THE KIDS'—from an American epic war film. Although the notion of treating language as a painting had been previously employed by artists such as John Baldessari, Wool departed from other artists' crisp lettering by using crude stencils to capture the marks of the printing process.

While continuing to create word paintings, Wool has closely worked with silkscreen prints since the 1990s. Often employing floral motifs from wallpapers, he enlarges and overlaps them upon one another to devise dense and abstracted configurations. At times, he spray-guns looping lines of black over them, sometimes wiping the surface with rags to allude to the act of vandalism in the streets. It was also in the 1990s that Wool began creating silkscreens of his finished paintings by photographing them and printing them on canvas. For Wool, appropriating his own work is not only a way of revising his practice, but also of exploring a method of generating new paintings.

Alongside his paintings, Wool has produced a number of photographic works over the course of his career. One of his most famous and earliest photos was a result of his collaboration with Richard Gober. The photograph shows a dress—sewn by Gober and printed by Wool—hanging on a tree. The untitled black and white image was exhibited in A Project: Robert Gober/Christopher Wool (1988), a joint exhibition co-curated by 303 Gallery, Paula Cooper Gallery, Luhring Augustine and Hodes Gallery in New York. In the 1990s, Wool started to incorporate photographs into his artworks and to generate discrete series, of which the 'East Broadway Breakdown' (1994-5/2002) is arguably the most famous. With a 35mm camera, the artist captured the desolate landscapes of downtown New York City in the quiet night hours devoid of human presence, focusing on aspects such as graffiti, garbage and stray dogs.

Wool has more recently extended his abstraction into the third dimension. In 2012, he designed a set of stained-glass windows for the 11th-century Chapelle capitulaire du Prieuré de la Charité-sur-Loire, France, for which he conceived a composition of looping lines with highlights in yellow. Whereas lead is used in traditional glassmaking to support and divide glass parts, Wool adopted it to reproduce the tangled strokes of his drawing. An untitled sculpture from his exhibition A New Sculpture (2018) at New York's Luhring Augustine echoes the abstracted lines of his stained-glass windows, in which bronze and copper plate steel cords are intricately entwined.

Wool had numerous exhibitions, including with the Hill Art Foundation at H Queen's Atrium, Hong Kong (2018); Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin (2017); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2015, 2012); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2014); Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2012); the 54th Venice Biennale (2011); and the New Museum, New York (2010). In 2013, a major survey of his oeuvre titled Christopher Wool was organised by the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, from where it travelled to the Art Institute of Chicago.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018
Read More

Featured Artworks

View All (12)
Untitled by Christopher Wool contemporary artwork Christopher WoolUntitled, 2016 Oil and silkscreen on paper
76.2 x 55.9 cm
Simon Lee Gallery
Untitled by Christopher Wool contemporary artwork Christopher WoolUntitled, 2000 Silkscreen ink on rice paper
183 x 132.5 cm
Simon Lee Gallery
Untitled by Christopher Wool contemporary artwork Christopher WoolUntitled, 2000 Silkscreen ink on linen
274.3 x 182.9 cm
Simon Lee Gallery
Untitled by Christopher Wool contemporary artwork Christopher WoolUntitled, 1998 Enamel on canvas
228.6 x 152.4 cm
Simon Lee Gallery
Untitled by Christopher Wool contemporary artwork Christopher WoolUntitled, 2008 Silkscreen ink on paper
182.9 x 140.3 cm
Simon Lee Gallery
Untitled (P368) by Christopher Wool contemporary artwork Christopher WoolUntitled (P368), 2001 Silkscreen ink on linen
90 x 60 inches
Simon Lee Gallery
Untitled by Christopher Wool contemporary artwork Christopher WoolUntitled, 1989 Marker on paper on artist's frame (unframed: 28 x 21.5 cm)
34.4 x 28 cm
Simon Lee Gallery
Untitled (S171) by Christopher Wool contemporary artwork Christopher WoolUntitled (S171), 2004 Enamel on linen
167.64 x 121.92 cm
Simon Lee Gallery

Recent Exhibitions

View All (5)
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Fake As More at Simon Lee Gallery, New York
Closed
13 November–22 December 2018 Group Exhibition Fake As More Simon Lee Gallery, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Family Guy at Simon Lee Gallery, London
Closed
3–20 October 2018 Group Exhibition Family Guy Simon Lee Gallery, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, New Pleasure at Simon Lee Gallery, New York
Closed
1 November–23 December 2017 Group Exhibition New Pleasure Simon Lee Gallery, New York

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Dakis Joannou Ocula Conversation Dakis Joannou Founder, DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, Greece

In 1983, Dakis Joannou, along with curators Adelina Von Furstenberg and Efi Strousa, founded the DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art. DESTE has staged exhibitions that include Cultural Geometry (1988), Psychological Abstraction (1989), Artificial Nature (1990), Post Human (1992-1993); four shows artist Andreas Angelidakis describes as four...

Read More

In Related Press

Expo Chicago 2016 announces roster for special projects sectors Related Press Expo Chicago 2016 announces roster for special projects sectors ARTNews : 26 August 2016

Expo Chicago, that city’s annual contemporary art fair, announced the list of participants for its 2016 editions of In/Situ, In/Situ Outside, and Expo Projects. These sectors of the fair feature large-scale installations, and will be placed both at the fair and around Chicago. Expo Chicago opens September 22.

Read More
Inigo Philbrick is showing 'Paintings on Paper' by Christopher Wool and Mike Kelley Related Press Inigo Philbrick is showing 'Paintings on Paper' by Christopher Wool and Mike Kelley Lorenza Pereira : 2 March 2016

All true art lovers, collectors, dealers and contemporary art market actors know quite well that there is always amazing exhibitions of well-known contemporary artists at London-based Inigo Philbrick. We could only mention one exhibition from 2015 – the show entitled Spray, Memory featuring works by Sterling Ruby and Mike Kelley. Inigo...

Read More
Kenny Schachter At Art Basel In Miami Beach Related Press Kenny Schachter At Art Basel In Miami Beach Kenny Schachter for Art News / 9 December 2014 : 15 December 2014

For weeks I’d been telling myself, and anyone who would listen, that I was going to skip the 2014 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach. It had been a busy fall. October’s Frieze London fair is at least on my home turf, but then there were whirlwind trips to Paris, for FIAC, and New York, for the auctions. I couldn’t be bothered with...

Read More

Sign up to be notified when new artworks and exhibitions by Christopher Wool are added to Ocula.

Follow favourite artists and galleries, be notified of new artworks and exhibitions, use our price enquiry service and receive the Ocula newsletter. It's free.

Sign Up
 Sign Up with Facebook
By signing up you accept our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and to
receiving the Ocula e-newsletter. Registration with Ocula is free.

WeChat

Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

iCal GoogleYahooOutlook