A way to share and manage lots.
Helen van der Heij, Amsterdam
Fredrik Roos Collection, Malmo (acquired from the above in 1990)
Private Collection (thence by descent)
Christie’s, London, July 2, 2014, lot 185
Private Collection, New York
Throughout Christopher Wool’s oeuvre, the artist utilizes a handful of technical devices to explore numerous visual tensions within his practice. Predominantly in black and white, the stark contrast of his monochrome palette is the first and most obvious juxtaposition found throughout his enamel paintings on canvas and paper. In the present lot from 1990, Wool has applied the dark black enamel paint with a patterned stencil onto thin rice paper, creating an additional contrast between the heaviness of the four figures and the sheer paper ground on which they rest. The composition exhibits a further opposition in the mechanical process of stenciling he employs combined with the evidence of his own hand, apparent in the slight imperfections of the paint’s application. Vertically oriented, the four figures are illustrated walking across the surface in different, horizontal directions, thus presenting yet another visual tension in the orientation of the composition. The repeated silhouetted figure calls to mind the artist’s earlier Pattern paintings of the 1970s, which first blurred the lines between fine art and decoration. Unlike these early, spotted Pattern paintings, which seem to recall the drip application of Abstract Expressionist masters like Jackson Pollock, the present lot’s pattern seems to instead harken back to a prehistoric cave painting. As the figures march across the narrow composition of the rice paper, Wool’s pattern reverses these cave paintings from a dark background with light, carved shapes to a light background with a darker shape, thus linking his own characteristic and contemporary style to the historic beginnings of art.
New York Auction 17 May 2017