35
35

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Christopher Wool
UNTITLED
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,170,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
35

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION

Christopher Wool
UNTITLED
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,170,000 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London

Christopher Wool
B. 1955
UNTITLED
signed, titled and dated 1998 on the stretcher
enamel on linen
274.3 by 182.9 cm. 108 by 72 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Luhring Augustine, New York
Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin
Private Collection, Switzerland
Skarstedt Gallery, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2013

Exhibited

Berlin, Galerie Max Hetzler, Christopher Wool, September - October 1998

Geneva, Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Christopher Wool, 1999

Literature

Hans Werner Holzwarth, Ed., Christopher Wool, New York 2008, pp. 224-225, illustrated (in installation at Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, 1998); p. 226, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Explosive in composition and enthralling in its application of pitch-black enamel paint on linen support, this monumentally scaled and intricately layered work from 1998 is a key touchstone of Christopher Wool’s revolutionary investigation into the genre of painting. This work is at once a painting of a painting and a painting about painting. In order to make it, Wool first ran a number of readymade patterned paint rollers along a massive ground, layering and muddling them so as to obfuscate their pre-determined orders, then framed them with a huge rectangle of spray-paint – so as to emphasise their role as subject matter – before finally flattening their forms into four quadrants of silkscreen. Even at this stage, instead of using more suitable silkscreen ink, he pushed thick enamel paint through the screens, so that his forms would be heavily hampered and muddied by glitches, blobs, and stutters. Wool glorifies his own convolution, attacking the genre of painting from within, and espousing his own concepts of creation and authorship. Curator Ann Goldstein has described his practice as such: “Through process, technique, scale, composition, and imagery, Wool’s work accentuates the tensions and contradictions between the act of painting, the construction of a picture, its physical attributes, the visual experience of looking at it, and the possibilities of playing with and pushing open the thresholds of its meanings. They are defined by what they’re not – and what they hold back” (Ann Goldstein in: Exh. Cat., Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art (and travelling), Christopher Wool, 1998, p. 263).

Having developed his practice at the critical height of the Pictures Generation – a group of artists whose appropriative and largely photographic strategies fundamentally undermined the validity of painting in contemporary art – Wool set out to prove the critical agency of painting within a set of newly defined parameters. The influential critic, Douglas Crimp, had famously declared ‘The End of Painting’ in his eponymous essay of 1981; nevertheless, it was within this critical milieu that Wool pursued a trajectory that negated the expressive decision-making usually associated with the discipline. In the late 1980s, Wool began working with his hand at a remove from his paintings’ surfaces. Using wallpaper pattern rollers, rubber stamps and stencils, Wool created all-over compositions of readymade motifs, banal patterns, and ubiquitous words and phrases on immaculate white aluminium surfaces in thick enamel paint. Combining the process-oriented practices of late-Minimalism with a quotidian ‘borrowing’ from everyday life, Wool’s paintings deftly sidestepped the baggage of painterly expressivity; and yet, via the mistakes and chance slippages of his handmade-readymade method, Wool was able to maintain a sense of free-hand energy. The skips and slides of the paint roller, the visual noise at the edge of a rubber stamp, or the pooling of enamel paint underneath a stencil, imparted remarkably painterly passages of poetic spontaneity.

 From this moment onwards, Wool’s oeuvre evolved through a cumulative progression of working and reworking. Following the rollers, stamps and stencils of the late 1980s and early 1990s, in 1993 Wool began applying the same motifs via silkscreen. By taking on Andy Warhol’s trademark method, Wool was afforded greater levels of mechanical mediation and control that nonetheless preserved the potential for dissonant slipups. The even effect of the silkscreen allowed the artist to apply layer-upon-layer of patternation that resulted in dense strata. While this sometimes resulted in compositional collapse, Wool’s cumulative layering would also create new forms and unexpected configurations. The push-pull of the destructive-creative impulse thus came to the fore in Wool’s work for the first time; as Katherine Brinson has explained, it was “only by sabotaging his own images”, that Wool could “find the freedom to generate new ones” (Katherine Brinson, ‘Trouble is my Business’, in: Exh. Cat., New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (and travelling), Christopher Wool, 2014, p. 42). 

Brilliantly capturing Wool’s ambitious and clever formal programme – which opened up the possibilities for painting from an unexpected angle – Untitled represents a key moment in the history of abstract painting. In the words of Glenn O’Brien, Christopher Wool “embraces and engages action painting as his primary source and then he manipulates it, with the cool reflection of a Pop artist or Dada collagist, creating art that is both intense and reflective, physical and mechanical, unconscious and considered, refined and redolant of street vernacular, both high and low” (Glenn O’Brien, ‘Apocalypse and Wallpaper’, Wool, Cologne 2012, p. 8).

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London