Christopher Wool - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galleria Gio Marconi, Milan

  • Catalogue Essay

    In Untitled (P489) from 2005 the washes of gray, abstracted representations, and bold spray paint line charge the canvas with panache typical only of Christopher Wool’s brash yet iconic image-making style. The artist defines a new wave of Abstract Expressionism, and in so doing manifests a work of art that helps redefine picture-making: “The power of Wool’s work is entrenched in its labour-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, colour, 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’ in Christopher Wool, Los Angeles, 1999, p. 265)

    By choosing to work with various mediums including paper, canvas, aluminium, photography, oil, spray, and enamel paints, Christopher Wool explores the possibilities of interpretation and developing varying thresholds of meaning in his artwork. Not simply symbols on canvas, a representation, or a conceptual piece, Untitled (P489) is a highly systematic, intellectual challenge that lies dead center amongst Wool’s best artistic impulses: “The rawness of the roller marks, the sprayed streaks and blobs, keeps the refined picture-making honest in terms of real-world observation and location; just as, conversely, the evident sophistication of his craft carries its own honesty as to who the maker is, cutting against the sentimentality of impoverishment. On longer reflection, there is also an inner tension between the two kinds of marking, in that the figurated rollers signify the over painted interior and the graffiti-style spraying conjures up the street and the walls on the outside of buildings. Connoted spaces are as important as illusionistic ones: Wool’s balancing and welding together of this inside-outside contradiction suspends the work between its referents, lending it an independent centre of gravity, making it a space where the mind’s eye can move in more than one direction.”

    (T. Crow, ‘Streetecriesinnewyork: On the Painting of Christopher Wool’ in Christopher Wool, Los Angeles, 1999, p. 280).


Untitled (P489)

Silkscreen ink on linen.
264.2 x 198.1 cm. (104 x 78 in).

Signed, titled and dated ‘Wool (P489) 2005’ on the reverse and on the overlap.

£300,000 - 400,000 Ω

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

28 Feb 2008, 7pm