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  • Provenance

    Luhring Augustine, New York

  • Literature

    T. Crow, A. Goldstein, M. Grynsztejn, G. Indiana and J. Lewis, Christopher Wool, Los Angeles, 1998, p. 70 (illustration of work in the artist’s studio)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Far from a simple repetition of random patterns, Untitled (P261) (1997) is a highly systematic, intellectual challenge that lies dead center amongst Christopher Wool’s artistic impulses. Wool defines a new development of Abstract Expressionism, and in so doing manifests a work of art that helps to redefine ‘picture-making’.

    Wool sought out inspiration in new possibilities of painting in the early 1980s. By creating contradictions to the traditional associations of the brushstroke and colors widely accepted in the painterly dictionary, the artist considered his artistic influences and developed a course unique to his own methodology. The artist considered his mature work to have started in 1984 when he began to focus and investigate the basic process of painting. Over the coming years his stylistic tastes changed and developed, and the present lot epitomizes his efforts in stamp techniques.

    In 1988 the artist chose to work with rubber stamps, which crossed his canvases in myriad fashions. Linked to his roller paintings, this new series also finds new interpretations of the artist’s application of method upon canvas. The stamp series broaden his imagery to incorporate leaves, birds, flowers and other tactile visuals.

    By choosing to work with various mediums including paper, canvas, aluminum, photography, oil, enamel and spray paint Christopher Wool explores the possibilities of interpretation and developing thresholds of meaning in his art. As Madeleine Grynsztejn explains, “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, taken from A. Goldstein, Christopher Wool, Los Angeles, 1999, p. 265).

    In his paintings and above all in the present lot, Wool addresses the universal experience; they interrogate and humor us, challenging our expectations of the traditional norm. His artwork has followed a trajectory that is at once historically reflexive, witness to the artistic movements surrounding it, yet simultaneously self-referential to his own artistic pursuits. He operates in mediums that challenge our perception of composition, questioning the meanings behind simply layered applications and figural, objective relationships.


Untitled (P261)

Enamel on aluminum.
107 7/8 x 72 in. (274 x 182.9 cm).
Signed, titled and dated "Wool 1997 (P261)" on the reverse.

£300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for £356,000

The Marino Golinelli Collection

13 October 2007, 1pm