Lot 52
  • 52

Christopher Wool

1,000,000 - 1,500,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Christopher Wool
  • Untitled (P16)
  • signed, titled and dated 1987 on the reverse
  • alkyd on aluminum and steel
  • 72 x 48 in. 182.9 x 121.9 cm.


Luhring, Augustine & Hodes Gallery, New York
Fredrik Roos Collection, Sweden
Christie's, New York, Contemporary Art from the Estate of Frederik Roos, May 6, 1992, Lot 110
Luhring, Augustine & Hodes Gallery, New York
Private Collection, Los Angeles
Sotheby's, New York, November 18, 1999, Lot 164
Simon Lee Gallery, London
Acquired by the present owner from the above


New York, Luhring, Augustine & Hodes Gallery, Christopher Wool, April 1987


Exh. Cat, Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art and travelling, Christopher Wool, 1998-99, p. 45, illustrated

Catalogue Note

"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."
The artist cited in: Hans Werner Holzwarth, Ed., Christopher Wool, New York, 2008, p. 280

The three outstanding paintings by Christopher Wool Untitled (P2), Untitled (P16) and Lazy and Stupid (S72) provide a fascinating survey of an early period in the artist’s mature career spanning the late 1980s and early 90s. These exceptional works afford highly revealing insight into the processes of construction and destruction of pictorial lexica and the scrutiny and reconsideration of conventions of painting that have formed the fundamental kernel of the artist’s conceptual and aesthetic enterprise. Through cumulative acts of reductionism and recapitulation, Wool has stripped down the essential facets of painting to engender a union of process with picture making. Vigorous gestures of abstraction have been limited to a purely monochrome palette and enshrined into a cool painterly distillation, while stark letters of text have been reoriented and realigned out of context to become compositional abstractions themselves.
The allover organized chaos of these early abstracts is immediately evocative of Abstract Expressionist paradigms of Jackson Pollock, while the stark binary of black and white immediately calls to mind the strict chromatic polarity of Franz Kline. Meanwhile Wool’s approach to media, re-presentation of found imagery, pictorial repetition and enlistment of typography as an aesthetic rather than semiotic agent also forges strong parity with Pop masterworks by the likes of Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol.
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 works, Wool explored 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, the artist explored reductive strategies informed by a myriad of art historical precedent. 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. Wool's art draws together myriad precedent with sensational economy. His art does not merely strategize semiotic themes of signs and signifiers, but, as epitomized by these works, embodies Marga Paz's deft summary that "We are confronted with work that deals with the possibilities and mechanisms that keep painting alive and valid in the present, an issue that, despite all forecasts, is one of the most productive and complex issues in contemporary visual art." (Marga Paz in: Exh. Cat., IVAM Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, Christopher Wool, 2006, p. 200)