Lot 1
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CHRISTOPHER WOOL | Untitled

Estimate
400,000 - 600,000 GBP
Sold
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Description

  • Christopher Wool
  • Untitled
  • stamped with the artist's name; signed, dated 2000 and numbered D98 on the reverse
  • enamel on rice paper
  • 167.6 by 119.1 cm. 66 by 46 7/8 in.

Provenance

Luhring Augustine, New York Eleni Koroneou Gallery, Athens

Acquired from the above by the present owner

Exhibited

Lucerne, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Mixing Memory and Desire, June - September 2000

Literature

Christopher Wool, 9th Street Run Down, Göttingen 2001, n.p., illustrated in colour Exh. Cat., Valencia, IVAM Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (and travelling), Christopher Wool, April - May 2006, p. 29, illustrated (installation view Lucerne)

Catalogue Note

Saturated with blazing pink enamel, Untitled exudes the explosive bravado that characterises Christopher Wool’s landmark 9th Street Rundown series. A commanding example of the artist’s radical self-appropriation, these works ape the visceral gestures of abstraction and sample pre-existing motifs, often incorporating the mechanised control of silkscreen reproduction. Herein, the present work not only provides the viewer with an extraordinary insight into the processes of construction and destruction of pictorial motifs, but also innovatively scrutinises and reconsiders the traditional parameters of painting. 1998 marked the genesis of Wool's defining 9th Street Rundown series and a seminal moment in the artist's career. Representing something of an encyclopaedia of painterly marks, these drawings encompass an impressive range of gestures that include fluid pours, roller patterns, spray-gun loops and, as in the present work, exigent splashes. Quite literally a taxonomic endeavour, these drawings range from a depiction of marks and motifs lifted directly from illustrations in beginner’s guides to abstract painting; through freehand marks made directly onto rice paper as in the present work; to a layering of appropriated motifs with the artist’s own spontaneous gestures. Subsequently, the 9th Street Rundown drawings became a key source for many of Wool's silkscreen paintings that were to follow. As Katherine Brinson explained: “In 1998, [Christopher Wool] began to use his own paintings as the starting point for new, autonomous works… 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).

At a time when the underlying trend in painting was set by Neo-Expressionism and the Transavantgarde movement, Wool was part of a small group of artists, including Martin Kippenberger and Albert Oehlen, who dared to challenge the internal mechanisms of painting itself by creating bodies of work that were inherently self-reflexive and deeply aware of art historical convention. These artists explored new possibilities by embracing failure and parodying archetypes of painterly expression. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the expressive drips and splatters of the present work, which so perfectly acknowledges and satirises the heroic gestures of its painterly forebears. Indeed, Untitled’s debt to art history is evident to see. The explosive splashes of paint are immediately redolent of the Abstract Expressionist paradigm of Jackson Pollock or the fluid mark-making of Cy Twombly, while Wool’s recapitulation of found imagery, his repetition and re-appropriation, forges a strong parity with Pop masterworks by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol.

Wool’s daring provocation of traditional notions of authorship and painting has had a seminal effect on contemporary art today. As pointed out by Bettina Funcke: “Wool's attitude towards the role of images in our culture today, one which he shares with contemporaries such as Prince, Oehlen, Cady Noland and Kippenberger, has become increasingly important to a younger generation of image makers, including New York artists Wade Guyton, Josh Smith and Kelley Walker" (Bettina Funcke, 'Revealed in Reproduction' in: Tate ETC., Issue 9, Spring 2007). A bold, unapologetic visual explosion of colour, Untitled is a formally urgent and intellectually brilliant artistic achievement.

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