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£150,000 - 250,000 ‡
sold for £293,000
Luhring Augustine, New York
Private Collection, New York
Private Collection, Switzerland
Composed of delicate interlaced panels, energetic curled lines and bleeding pools of scattered dark ink, Christopher Wool’s Untitled (D305) is a dynamic example of his pioneering and provocative use of silkscreen, sent to challenge our existing notion of the picture plane. Bridging the gap between the artist’s creative process and the aesthetic outcome, Wool turns the work in on itself whereby the viewer is forced to confront the artist’s practice face on. Through mark-making, erasing, blurring, layering and stamping, his work redefines and rethinks painting through his mastery of both traditional and progressive techniques.
Wool’s preoccupation with modifying and manipulating images is bound with his seminal exploration of silkscreen. Drawing upon his own body of work and the Pop silkscreen tradition, Wool transports details of earlier works into the present, displaying them in a fresh context by repeating, abstracting and overlaying sections to create depth and dynamism in his multi-layered works. Each work therefore enters Wool’s library of images, plucked from history to be assigned a refreshed and renewed meaning. In the present work, we see Wool tessellating monochromatic sections of silkscreen, repeating sections of pattern and weaving areas of richer texture and conversely fainter, dappled areas over the surface of the paper. The rhythm of the printing press courses through the paper like a pulse, beating in line with the heaving production line of modern printed mass media, whilst channelling the energy of the urban city sprawl. Championing ground-breaking techniques, Wool also digitally emulates silkscreen textures, extracting enlargements of earlier works and applying them to the paper. Wool’s pictorial arena becomes an area of assemblage, allowing for all the flaws and uncertainty of the printing process to mark-make, whilst recalling ghostly memories of prior works and celebrating the immediacy of the artist’s gesture, to create a progressive and new painterly syntax.
Using spray guns to soak the picture plane in ink and to create winding anarchic lines, Wool’s iconic use of gesture permeates his later body of work, to which the present lot belongs. In Untitled (D305) we see frenetic loops careering off the paper, vibrating with both feverish uncertainty and forceful purpose. Echoing the immediacy of action painting, Wool’s ‘swirling squiggles ride the canvas with fraught exhilaration’ (Glenn O’Brien, ‘Apocalypse and Wallpaper’, in Hans Werner Holzwarth, ed., Christopher Wool, New York, 2012, p. 11). The looped lines cross over, double up and pirouette across the paper, both chaotic and elegant in their ownership of the space, defying the constraints of the paper edges. Skidding across the surface with both comic irreverence and ferocious dynamism, the viewer is reminded of urban walls covered in layers of graffiti, the exterior of abandoned buildings and daubed subway walls. Seemingly accidental blots seep across the paper, which bleed into the silkscreen, interrupting the journey of the hurtling lines. Calligraphic splashes and black puddles punctuate the paper and draw our attention to the physicality of the inks utilised by Wool, reminiscent of the gestural strokes celebrated by the Abstract Expressionists. The variety of techniques culminate in a rebellious tumult, whereby the viewer is forced to acknowledge both the artist’s process and the vital life force coursing through the gestural marks confronting us. It is precisely Wool’s tenacity and adeptness at mastering his mediums, exemplified in Untitled (D305), which grounds him as one of the most prolific contemporary artists practicing today.
£150,000 - 250,000 ‡
sold for £293,000
London Auction 29 June 2017