Christopher Wool (b. 1955)
signed, titled and dated 'WOOL 1996 UNTITLED' (on the reverse)
spray enamel on aluminium
54 x 40in. (137 x 101.5cm.)
Executed in 1996
Luhring Augustine, New York.
Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1996.
Cologne, Galerie Gisela Capitain, Christopher Wool, 1996.

Lot Essay

A jostling image conflating a delicate, silkscreened floral motif with freely gestured spray paint recalling the graffiti of the streets, Christopher Wool's Untitled is a bold engagement with the legacies of Post-War American art. Executed in 1996, Wool explores these themes of figurative seriality and abstraction through the milieu of industrial materials and procedures, layering silkscreened imprints and loosely-applied spray paint in stark black and white onto a large-scale aluminum panel. In Untitled, Wool has applied multiple overlaid panels of silkscreened floral motifs, resulting in a rich and complex topography of overprinting which engages the eye and invites closer examination. Retaining the remnants of the hard, layered edges and corners demarcating these printing screens, Wool not only highlights the various production processes inherent in the creation of the work but also assimilates them as an integral part of the composition, bringing about a tension between figuration and abstraction. Wool's final flourish is a floral tangle of lines produced using a spray gun - the rounded forms of which loosely respond to the blossom patterns that their presence obscures. Through this system of overprinting, silkscreen slippage and graffiti-like scrawl, Wool invokes the unique grittiness and intensity of everyday experience.

Wool's pictorial language has been built on various visual and conceptual discourses from seriality to techniques of mechanical reproduction to everyday text and imagery, all of which find root in Pop Art. In its very facture and motif Untitled draws upon Andy Warhol's Flowers series from 1964. In both Untitled and in Flowers, the works were constructed by repeating a monochrome floral motif drawn from mass culture using industrial painting techniques. Wool merges the legacy of Pop Art with that of Abstract Expressionism by conflating cool reproduction with the intuitive and emotionally charged expression read through the lens of street graffiti.

Abandoning his rollers and rubber stamps but retaining their effects in his practice, Wool first turned to silkscreening in 1992. Extending on his first paintings executed with paint rollers of floral motifs derived from the world of ornamentation, Wool strips them of any decorative, symbolic or descriptive qualities, focusing instead on their ability to act as both foreground and background. The structured compositions created through these devices soon gave way to works built on an accumulation of layers, accelerating toward increasingly dense and complexly entangled imagery. In Untitled, Wool has built on his interest in the opportunity for slippages to proliferate in his mechanical process, adding his own artistic intent to the surface of the work. As Wool explains, 'I became more interested in 'how to paint it' than 'what to paint'' (C. Wool, quoted in A. Goldstein, 'Interview with the Artist 17 October 1997', Christopher Wool, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 1998, p. 258).

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