Christopher Wool - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 13, 2015 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Luhring Augustine, New York
    Spruth Magers Lee, London
    McCabe Fine Art, Stockholm

  • Exhibited

    London, Camden Arts Centre, Christopher Wool, 31 January-11 April 2004
    Stockholm, McCabe Fine Art, Christopher Wool: Selected Paintings, 30 January-14 March 2015

  • Literature

    Christopher Wool, exh. cat., Camden Arts Centre, London 2004, unpaginated (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘Each new set of lines is smothered in hazy veils of wiped grey, with further layers sprayed on top, to the point where distinguishing between the various imbrications becomes impossible. The antiheroic notion of mark-unmaking correlates with a conviction lying at the heart of Wool's oeuvre - that linear progress toward artistic mastery is a modernist relic.’ (K. Brinson, ‘Trouble is My Business,’ Christopher Wool, exh. cat., Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2014, p.47)

    Language, music and line form the three main torrents that flow through Christopher Wool’s array of works rendered in a variety of medium ranging from works on aluminium to screen prints. In 2008 one of the most explicit proclamations of Wool’s creative interests were brought to the fore through his collaboration with punk icon Richard Hell for an exhibition and publication entitled PSYCHOPTS. This show acted as a symphony of ideas embodying the notions that had arisen in works such as Untitled (Jazz Death) prior to this moment; Wool’s fascination with alternative channels of expression gained momentum as he found himself captivated by the possibilities of improvisation, sound, rhythm and syntax.

    As the title suggests, Untitled (Jazz Death) displays the artist’s relationship with music as well as the sound and aesthetic of the city in which he lives, New York. Undulating lines fade in and out of focus as they recede, brake off in mid-flow or repeat just like riffs and melodies in a piece of music. Furthermore, working with a spray gun, Wool’s works emulate the rugged nature of street art and specifically, graffiti. Perhaps, most recognisable of his artworks are those that feature slogans, tags and text however, the pieces rendered in enamel on linen from the turn of the century, almost act as a natural progression of his earlier endeavours. As a result, they break the boundaries and expose the limitations of semantics itself. Reducing the visual language into an assimilation of twisting marks, these paintings place Wool’s experimentations in line with those of the Abstract Expressionists that preceded him. Training in the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture in the early 1970s, Wool’s exposure to the works of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning inevitably became a defining factor in his own artistic growth. In Untitled (Jazz Death), he creates an ethereal mirage of lines that generates a confusing sense of depth not dissimilar to that of Pollock’s drip paintings. Furthermore, the two artists are comparable in the unpredictable sense of movement evoked by their vibrant surfaces.

    The technique of erasure found in Untitled (Jazz Death) inevitably brings to mind the famous Erased de Kooning (1953) by Robert Rauschenberg. Wool employs a solvent-soaked cloth to smear and wipe away sections of the composition, thus emphasising the formal qualities of the medium - its tonality and texture. “I became more interested in ‘how to paint it’ than ‘what to paint.’” (C. Wool, interview with A. Goldstein, “What They’re Not: The Paintings of Christopher Wool,” Christopher Wool, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1998, p. 256). His decision to work in enamel further illustrates his commitment to spontaneity as this medium offers less artist control and dries very quickly. Therefore, the hierarchy of form over subject matter is highlighted all the more.

    ‘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.’ (M. Grynsztejn, “Unfinished Business,” Christopher Wool, Los Angeles, 1999, p. 265).

Property from the Estate of Dr. Fredric S. Brandt, Miami


Untitled (Jazz death)

enamel on linen
244 x 183 cm (96 1/8 x 72 in.)
Signed and numbered 'Wool 2003 (P421)' on the reverse. Further signed 'Wool 2003 (p421)' along the overlap.

£1,200,000 - 1,800,000 

Sold for £1,314,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 14 October 2015 7pm