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Christopher Wool (American, b. 1955)


Medium enamel on aluminum Measurements H: 277 1/2 x W: 180 in. (704.85 x 274.32 cm) Credit Robert S. Waters Charitable Trust Fund, Patrons Art Fund, and John Caldwell Memorial Fund Accession Number 93.155 Location Courtyard Entry


Christopher Wool made this oversize painting for the 1991 Carnegie International, where it was exhibited on an outdoor wall. Comprising an excerpt from the Situationist writer Raoul Vaneigem's 1967 book The Revolution of Everyday Life, it is an especially bleak assessment of contemporary rootlessness and alienation. It can, in fact, be seen as a billboard of doom. The emphatic, geometrically spaced lettering of this work and the artist's arbitrary arrangement of its words illuminate the anomie of Vaneigem's statement. Since 1988, Wool has used stenciled words almost as abstract symbols, fragmenting them as if to reinvent narrative meaning. He has also employed floral devices and heraldic motifs such as birds since the late 1980s, sometimes using rubber rollers to apply them as crudely executed allover patterns.

Artist Bio

Merging the legacy of Willem de Kooning's abstraction with the Conceptualists' subversive use of text and form, Christopher Wool's practice questions traditional conventions of painting. Wool similarly resists the artistic canon by working on steel and most often applies paint through non-gestural commercial processes, such as stenciling, rolling, stamping, and dripping, that undermine the preciousness associated with marks left by a brush in the artist's hand. Using both pattern and text/language, Wool's work explores form, line, color, and composition and a particular emphasis on the surface (rather than content) of the work.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1955, New York-based artist Christopher Wool received his undergraduate degree at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, before completing graduate work at the New York Studio School and New York University. He has been featured in many solo exhibitions, including at Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles, and Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg (both in 2006); Camden Arts Centre, London (2004); Dundee Contemporary Arts, Scotland (2002); Centre d'Art Contemporain Geneve, Geneva (1999), and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1989). The first major survey of Wool's work, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, traveled to Carnegie Museum of Art in 1998. Wool has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, notably in the 51st Carnegie International (1991) and the 6th International Istanbul Biennale, Turkey (1999), as well as at venues including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Perry Rubenstein Gallery, New York (both in 2005); John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco and the Miami Art Museum (both in 2003); Kunstmuseum Basel (2002), and Portikus, Frankfurt (1989).

[Extracted from acquisition proposals, 2007/2008]