In-your-face, achingly simple, deceptively frank, the work of Christopher Wool is so very New York. Though he owes a debt to abstract expressionism and pop art, he completely transcends--even demolishes--these genres. Whether it's a text-based painting or an abstract spray-painted piece, his work is immediately engaging. Wool questions painting, like many other artists in his generation, but he doesn't provide any easy answers. The Harder You Look the Harder You Look, as he titled one of his word paintings, is an excellent example of how he states the obvious whilst provoking us to think deeper about what seems obvious.
Christopher Wool became known in the mid-1980s through allover paintings produced with rubber rollers commonly used to simulate decorative wallpaper patterns on walls. By 1988 he had hit stride with his dry, dead-pan word paintings (Trbl, Riot, Sell the House, Sell the Car, Sell the Kids), while continuing to explore the possibilities of pattern painting. Since the 1990s, he has been developing the painterly qualities of his work, using a mostly black-and-white palette, starting from abstract lines drawn with a spray gun or layered stock images, overpainting silkscreens on linen, wiping out images, with a widening variety of media, a process that can involve photography, silkscreen, and, in the new millennium, also the computer.
Hardcover, 432 pages, 9.8" x 13.1", Taschen Books, 2012.
Work by Christopher Wool was featured in Phantom Limb, presented at the MCA May 5-Oct 21, 2012.