Christopher Wool is best known for his paintings of large, black, stenciled letters on white canvases, but he possesses a wide range of styles; using a combined array of painterly techniques, including spray painting, hand painting, and screen-printing, he provides tension between painting and erasing, gesture and removal, depth and flatness. By painting layer upon layer of whites and off-whites over screen-printed elements used in previous works—monochrome forms taken from reproductions, enlargements of details of photographs, screens, and Polaroids of his own paintings—he accretes the surface of his pressurized paintings while apparently voiding their very substance. Only ghosts and impediments to the field of vision remain, each fixed in its individual temporality. Through these various procedures of application and cancellation, Wool obscures the liminal traces of previous elements, putting reproduction and negation to generative use in forming a new chapter in contemporary painting. His paintings can therefore be defined as much by what they are not and what they hold back as what they are.
Wool was born in 1955 in Chicago. He studied at Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York, and the New York Studio School. Wool’s work has been exhibited extensively around the world in many solo and group exhibitions. Solo shows include the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1989); Museum Boymans–van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands (1991, traveled to Kunsthalle Bern, Switzerland; and Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, Germany); Eli Broad Family Foundation, Los Angeles (1992); Ophiuchus Collection, The Hydra Workshop, Greece (1998); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1998, traveled to Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; and Kunsthalle Basel); Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva (1999); Le Consortium, Dijon, France (2002, traveled to Dundee Contemporary Arts, Scotland, through 2003); Camden Arts Centre, London (2004); Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Valencia, Spain (2006); ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Zurich (2006); Museu de Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2008, traveled to Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2012); and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2013, traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago).
Wool lives and works in New York.
Visions of the Self: Rembrandt and Now
In partnership with English Heritage
April 12–May 18, 2019
Grosvenor Hill, London
Painting Paintings (David Reed) 1975
Curated by Katy Siegel and Christopher Wool
January 17–February 25, 2017
980 Madison Avenue, New York
Beverly Hills 20-Year Anniversary Invitational Exhibition, 1995–2015
October 30–December 19, 2015
Lauren Mahony and Michael Tcheyan pay homage to the founder of the New York Studio School.
Christopher Wool: Part Two
Gray turns to pink or his twenty-first century, much of it in Texas. Text by Richard Hell.
Christopher Wool: Part One
Christopher Wool and his unlikely heroes or conceptual or not? Text by Richard Hell.
Gagosian Quarterly Winter 2019
The Winter 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a selection from Christopher Wool’s Westtexaspsychosculpture series on its cover.
Gagosian Quarterly Fall 2019
The Fall 2019 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring a detail from Sinking (2019) by Nathaniel Mary Quinn on its cover.
Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt
Jenny Saville reveals the process behind her new self-portrait, painted in response to Rembrandt’s masterpiece Self-Portrait with Two Circles.
The Bigger Picture
Free Arts NYC
Meredith Mendelsohn discusses the impact of Free Arts NYC and its mission to foster creativity in children and teens, on the occasion of its twenty-year anniversary.
Christopher Wool’s Black Book (1989) was selected by Douglas Flamm, a rare-book specialist at Gagosian, for a special focus. Text by Anna Heyward.
Painting Paintings (David Reed) 1975
In this video, Christopher Wool, Katy Siegel, and David Reed discuss Reed’s paintings and memories of the New York arts scene in 1975.
New York, 1975
Katy Siegel and Christopher Wool discuss David Reed’s paintings and the New York art scene in 1975.
Ice and Fire: A Benefit Exhibition in Three Parts
October 15, 2020–January 31, 2021
The benefit exhibition Ice and Fire features works by more than forty artists who have enduring relationships with the Kitchen in New York. Installed within the organization’s three-story space in Chelsea, which is currently closed due to the global pandemic, the three-part exhibition is viewable online. Proceeds from sales will go toward a planned renovation on the occasion of the Kitchen’s fiftieth anniversary, ensuring that the nonprofit space will remain a platform for artistic experimentation in its historic and beloved building. Work by Cecily Brown, Roe Ethridge, Mark Grotjahn, Alex Israel, Ed Ruscha, Taryn Simon, Mary Weatherford, and Christopher Wool is included.
Mark Grotjahn, Untitled (Capri 53.57), 2020 © Mark Grotjahn
Artist Plate Project
Coalition for the Homeless
November 16–December 14, 2020
Gagosian is pleased to support the Coalition for the Homeless’s Artist Plate Project fundraiser. Artwork by fifty artists, including Cecily Brown, Katharina Grosse, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Sarah Sze, Andy Warhol, Jonas Wood, and Christopher Wool, is featured on limited-edition dinner plates produced by Prospect and made available through Artware Editions to support the Coalition’s lifesaving programs. All of the funds raised by the sale of the plates will provide food, crisis services, housing, and other critical aid to thousands of people experiencing homelessness and instability. The purchase of one plate can feed seventy-five homeless and hungry New Yorkers.
Katharina Grosse, Shake Before Using, 2020 © Katharina Grosse and VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Germany 2020
Artists for Biden
October 2–8, 2020
Artists for Biden is an online-only sale of works by leading contemporary artists to support the Biden Victory Fund—a joint fundraising committee authorized by Biden for President, the Democratic National Committee, and forty-seven state Democratic parties. All proceeds from the sale will provide resources needed to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and support other Democratic candidates across the country in the lead up to Election Day. Work by Cecily Brown, Michael Heizer, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Sarah Sze, Stanley Whitney, and Christopher Wool will be available. To register for early access on October 1, visit secure.joebiden.com.
Sarah Sze, Afterimage, Silver, 2018 © Sarah Sze
Amy Sillman—The Shape of Shape
October 21, 2019–April 12, 2020
Museum of Modern Art, New York
In The Shape of Shape, Amy Sillman—an artist who has helped redefine contemporary painting, pushing the medium into drawing, installations, video, and zines—has created a revelatory Artist’s Choice installation drawn from the museum’s collection. The exhibition features works, many rarely seen, spanning vastly different time periods, places, and mediums. Work by Jay DeFeo, Helen Frankenthaler, Howard Hodgkin, Henry Moore, Albert Oehlen, and Christopher Wool is included.
Jay DeFeo, Untitled (Tripod series), c. 1976, Museum of Modern Art, New York © 2020 The Jay DeFeo Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Maybe Maybe Not
Christopher Wool and the Hill Collection
February 9–June 28, 2019
Hill Art Foundation, New York
Maybe Maybe Not inaugurates the exhibition program of the Hill Art Foundation, a cultural center conceived to offer broad public access to the incredible collection of works assembled by Janine and J. Tomilson Hill over the past four decades. This presentation of paintings, works on paper, photographs, and prints encapsulates the evolution of Christopher Wool’s career, ranging from his early experiments with ready-made forms in pattern and word paintings to his more recent explorations of spontaneous gesture and digital intervention.
The Marciano Collection
May 25–September 16, 2017
Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles
Unpacking: The Marciano Collection was the debut presentation of the collection’s holdings organized by Philipp Kaiser. The title and theme of the show were derived from Walter Benjamin’s essay “Unpacking My Library,” in which he discusses the chaotic potentiality inherent in unpacking and recontextualizing one’s collection. Work by Mark Grotjahn, Jennifer Guidi, Thomas Houseago, Alex Israel, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Sterling Ruby, Cindy Sherman, Franz West, Jonas Wood, and Christopher Wool was included.
Installation view, Unpacking: The Marciano Collection, Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles, May 25–September 16, 2017. Artwork, left to right: © Albert Oehlen, © Christopher Wool
Hartung and Lyrical Painters
December 11, 2016–April 17, 2017
Fonds Hèlène & Èdouard Leclerc pour la Culture, Landerneau, France
Exploring the history of lyrical abstraction, this exhibition, curated by Xavier Douroux, brings together notable modern and contemporary artists who resonate with the work of Hans Hartung. Works by Helen Frankenthaler, Albert Oehlen, Cy Twombly, and Christopher Wool are on view.
Photo by Nathalie Savale