Christopher Wool - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Simon Lee Gallery, London; Private collection, Paris

  • Catalogue Essay

    In the past decade or so, Christopher Wool’s approach to painting has steadily evolved as he has started to create works where the surface pigment is applied using a spray gun. Predominantly untitled and executed in a stark palette of black and white, Wool’s recent works are composed of plunging lines and intermittent trickles that fundamentally refer to the long history of the painterly gesture. They throw into sharp contrast, the conflicted urges of mark-making and erasure. The subsequent compositions are tousled masses of lines with the exceedingly fluid black pigment left to drip down the surface of the panels. Each striking example of his recent body of work illustrates the clear and resonant progression that Wool has made.

    In Untitled (P522), 2005, the washes of gray, abstracted representations, and bold spray painted lines charge the canvas with confidence and flair — typical only of Christopher Wool’s brash image-making. Wool defines a new wave by embracing the modus operandi of the grand gestures of Abstract Expressionism. In doing so he manifests a work that helps redefine the making of a picture and skewers the contributions of the post-war generation. “The power of Wool’s work is entrenched in its labor-intensive emphasis both on the act of painting and on painting’s constituent elements. In Wool’s pieces we are perpetually returned to an analysis of form, line,
    color, frame, and frontal composition. The result of this approach is a sharp emphasis on the surface of the work as a site of formation and interpretation, and a commensurate focus on the practice of image-making. Wool’s ambition is to incorporate into the work a sustained consciousness of art-making’s activity. Further, the compressed compositions carried on skin-thin surfaces convey in their tactility an awareness that these paintings cannot in any actual sense embody transcendence or grandeur. This is an inescapable aspect of present circumstances. In fact, Wool’s work deliberately prevents a swift and unencumbered apprehension ‘for the purpose of awakening in the spectator the uneasiness with which the perception of a painting should be accompanied’” (M. Grynsztejn, “Unfinished Business,” Christopher Wool,
    Los Angeles, 1999, p. 265).

15

Untitled (P522)

2005
Enamel on canvas laid down on board.
96 x 72 in. (243.8 x 182.9 cm.)
Signed, titled and dated “Wool 2005 (P522)” on the overlap and again on the reverse of the backing board.

Estimate
$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for $902,500

Contemporary Art Part I

12 May 2011
New York