Lot 3
  • 3

Christopher Wool

6,500,000 - 7,500,000 USD
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  • Christopher Wool
  • Last Year Halloween Fell on a Weekend
  • signed, dated 2004 and numbered (P452) on the overlap
  • enamel and silkscreen ink on canvas
  • 104 x 78 in. 264.2 x 198.1 cm.


Luhring Augustine, New York
Mr. and Mrs. Michael Lynne, New York
Gagosian Gallery, New York
Private Collection
Acquired by the present owner from the above


London, Camden Arts Centre, Christopher Wool, January - April 2004
New York, Luhring Augustine Gallery, Christopher Wool, November - December 2004, cat. no. 14, illustrated 
Valencià, IVAM Institut Valencià d'Art Modern; Strasbourg, Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg, Christopher Wool, April - September 2006, p. 147, illustrated in color, pp. 36 and 37, illustrated (in installation at Camden Arts Centre, London, 2004) and pp. 42 and 43, illustrated (in installation at Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York, 2004)
Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Christopher Wool, March - August 2012, p. 35, illustrated
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Christopher Wool, October 2013 - May 2014, cat. no. 62, p. 179, illustrated in color


This work is in excellent condition. Please contact the Contemporary Art Department at (212) 606-7254 for the condition report prepared by Terrence Mahon. The canvas is unframed.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Searing with an aggressive wit and brazen attitude exemplary of Christopher Wool’s radical approach to painting, the artist’s Last Year Halloween Fell on a Weekend from 2004 confronts us with a formally urgent and intellectually brilliant artistic achievement. Highlighted in several of Wool’s most important retrospectives, including the most recent exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and the IVAM Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, the present work represents the climax of Wool’s sensational, provocative, and endlessly engaging body of work. Throughout his career, Wool has explored a mutating, visually arresting landscape of seemingly mechanical, cipher-like reductions; coolly detached and emptied of heroic angst. Epitomizing Wool’s compelling amalgamation of visual restraint and explosive bravado, the present work 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., Valencià, IVAM Institut Valencià d'Art Modern, Christopher Wool, 2006, p. 200)

In an incredibly complex, postmodern investigation of originality and authorship, Wool began in 1998 to use his own paintings as starting points for new work. Last Year Halloween Fell on a Weekend uses a silkscreen of Wool’s gray painting Run Down Run from 2003 and applies an additional layer of brilliant scarlet spray paint. In appropriating his own work, Wool challenges the notion of the copy; in his re-coloring, Wool further evokes Warhol’s much esteemed series of Reversals and Retrospectives, in which he revisited earlier bodies of work through new chromatic opportunities. A disorienting hybrid between copied and new marks, Wool creates a dizzying effect that conflates the original and the appropriated to the point of illegibility. As Katherine Brinson explained, “In 1998, he began to use his own paintings as the starting point for new, autonomous works. He would take a finished picture, use it to create a silkscreen, and then reassign the image wholesale to a new canvas. Simple as this transfer might seem, it effects a distinct metamorphosis… This strategy of self-appropriation marked a new phase in Wool’s practice in which original mark-making, tentatively permitted, coexists with works that deny the hand entirely.” (Katherine Brinson, ‘Trouble is My Business’ in Exh. Cat., New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (and travelling), Christopher Wool, 2013, p. 46)

Brash lines of hot scarlet snake their way around a vaporous background of washed grey, roughly tracing Wool’s marks from the year prior, while commanding an electrifying visual power. Like a vandal taking a spray-can to the wall, Wool simultaneously defaces and makes anew—what renders this act so enthralling, however, is his own heightened self-reflexivity, redefining the landscape of Modernism whose tenets are already so resolutely tied to self-conscious pictorial strategies. While Wool began this riveting procedure of self-citation in 1998, at the start of the millennium the artist started to use digital imaging as a way of transferring his old paintings into the foundation of his new work. This translation process resulted in a dizzying halftone effect, fragmenting his source image into modules of dots that revealed the interventions of the photographic mechanism. Adhering to a compelling uniformity inextricably linked to Wool’s abiding interest in sign-painting and the translation of the mechanically reproduced photographic image onto the painterly surface, Wool’s surface maintains a concomitant machine-made quality with a seductive chromatic expressionism that lures us into its electrifying fuchsia spangles.

In 1981, Douglas Crimp announced the death of painting—a declaration that Wool categorically refused to listen to. At a time when the prevailing trend in painting was set by Neo-expressionism and the Transavantgarde movement, Wool joined a small band of artists including Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen who dared to challenge the status quo of painting from within the medium itself. As perfectly represented by the present work, he explored new possibilities by successfully addressing the contradictions and interrelationships between abstraction and figuration. In a progression of series, from paintings of vines and floral prints to the pre-eminent digital silkscreens and stencilled word pictures, the artist explored reductive strategies informed by a plethora of art historical precedent, such as the minimalist geometric landscapes of Piet Mondrian, the all-over action paintings of Jackson Pollock, and Andy Warhol's distinctly post-modern silkscreen works that trafficked in mechanical reproduction with the same élan as Wool’s Last Year Halloween Fell on a Weekend. The slick black-and-white aesthetic Wool adopted as his signature style evidences an ongoing negotiation with and reconsideration of the history of abstract painting and painterly process; the present work sees Wool push past the monochromatic tones of his earlier paintings, literally building upon them with bright pink accents that render the painting even more visually arresting and entirely engrossing.