"Painting, for me, is often a struggle between the planned and the unforeseen. The best paintings are the ones that you could not have imagined before you began... Of course the worst paintings are created in this way as well."
The artist cited in: Hans Werner Holzwarth, Ed., Christopher Wool, New York 2008, p. 280
Constituting a dramatic negotiation between artistic agency and effacement, Christopher Wool's Untitled (P583) is a commanding example from the artist's corpus of abstract monochrome works. Executed in 2009, this painting is archetypal of the series of paintings on linen first initiated by the artist in 2003. In tandem with Wool's greater artistic project, these works scrutinise and reconsider the tradition of painting from the inside out. Systematically, through a cumulative project of reductionism and recapitulation, Wool has stripped down the essential facets of painting to engender a union of process with picture making. In the present work, vigorous gestures of abstraction have been limited to a purely monochrome palette, while the act of dramatic painterly erasure and effacement are here enshrined into a cool painterly distillation. Conferring a rigorous schema of scrubbing-out against which spasmodic loops of spray paint forge a combination of multifarious visual referents, Untitled(P583) at once encompasses graffiti whilst simultaneously alluding to the post-minimalist painting of Brice Marden or the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock via the silkscreen methodology of Andy Warhol. Indeed, densely evocative and intensely discursive with art history, Christopher Wool's Untitled (P583) commandingly explores and reconsiders the act and process of painting via wealth of arcane and somewhat ghostly allusion.
According to Eric Banks, "These paintings refuse to behave like paintings". Indeed, adopting the conditions of the photograph, the objective black and white clarity of Wool's Untitled (P583) delivers a trompe-leoil reading that negates its painterly technique. However, it is prescient to note that these works simultaneously impel the viewer to retrace the motions of its dramatic and strenuous execution. Painted onto linen, this series marks a decisive break from Wool's extant works painted onto industrial aluminium. As outlined by Ann Goldstein: "When, toward the end of the decade, Wool began to use linen as a support for his paintings, this marked a subtle yet significant shift in his work. Though his earlier use of aluminium did not in itself signify a rejection of painting traditions, his use of linen provided him with an opportunity to re-engage the tradition of painting. In exploring the physical, historical, and conceptual properties of this support, he enriched the union of process and picturemaking that is fundamental to his oeuvre" (Ann Goldstein, 'How to Paint', Hans Werner Holzwarth, Ed., Christopher Wool, New York 2008,p. 187). Painted over and over, the gestures of Wool's composition are endlessly requoted and effaced. Comprising a condensation of Wool's painterly syntax, Untitled (P583) represents the very culmination of the artist's ironic and almost appropriationist concern with the language of abstraction: "it's as if he's leeched the life out of his vibrant loops, captured them on film, then searched for a way to bring them back to life" (Eric Hall, Op Cit., p. 371). Herein, these works represent an evacuated parsimony of painterly form.
At a time when the prevailing trend in painting was set by neo-expressionist and Transavantguardia painting, Wool joined a small band of artists including Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen who dared challenge the status quo of painting from within the medium itself. As perfectly represented by the present work, Wool explores new possibilities by successfully addressing the contradictions and interrelation of abstraction and figuration. In a progression of series, from the preeminent stencilled word pictures to the corpus of purely abstract paintings to which the present work belongs, the artist explored reductive strategies informed by a myriad of art historical precedent. Such landmark influences range from the minimalist geometric landscapes of Piet Mondrian, right through to the action painting of Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol's distinctly post-modern silkscreen works that dealt with mechanical replication, and of course Cy Twombly's redefinition of line and text as a purely visual medium. The slick black and white aesthetic Wool adopted as his trademark evinces an on-going negotiation with and reconsideration of the history of abstract painting and painterly process. In order to visualise the general parameters of painting, content and composition within his oeuvre, his series of all-over abstractions employed the technique of drip painting, which also made reference to post-minimalised, procedure-based works that Richard Serra made by throwing lead. Indeed, Serra's thrown lead works are central for Wool's ideas on process and covering up; an aspect patently redolent within the immaculate ghost-like layers that comprise the surface of Untitled (P583).
Delivering an arbitrary yet carefully orchestrated palimpsest of erased and over-written abstract gesture, the present work deploys an eloquent denouncement of colour, composition and form. Indeed, defined by its occlusions and white-washed erasures as much as forcefully spray painted loops and frenetic scribbles, Untitled (P583) masterfully pairs drastic urgency with Wool's cool and utterly inimitable detachment. As cogently elucidated by Katrina M. Brown: "Wool controls the chaos, to offer us a kind of primary viewing, the image as a pre-linguistic, pre-thought means of communicating. With their grand scale, bold unapologetic presence and their stark black and white confidence, Wool's painting seem like an indescribable urban cool, a tense fusion of intellect and emotion, control and chaos" (Katrina M. Brown, Contemporary Magazine, Winter 2003, cited in Hans Werner Holzwarth, Ed., Christopher Wool, New York 2008, p. 296).
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale