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Gagosian Quarterly

Summer 2017 Issue

Book Corner

Black Book

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.

Spread from Christopher Wool’s Black Book (1989)

Spread from Christopher Wool’s Black Book (1989)

Anna Heyward

Anna Heyward is a writer and editor in New York. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vogue, and The Paris Review Daily, among others.

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Black Book exemplifies Christopher Wool’s use of the typographical word as a pictorial image. It is an oversized object, roughly twenty-three inches tall, and contains forty pages bearing seventeen reproductions of enamel drawings. Jet-black paper covers the boards that bind it. Each page of the book contains a single word, inscribed like a large-scale code:

ASSASSIN

ASSISTANT

CELEBRITY

HYPNOTIST

HYPOCRITE

INFORMANT

MERCENARY

PARANOIAC

Published in 1989, Black Book marks a moment when Wool’s work stirred the New York art scene. His bold and rebellious word paintings have since become canonical: white canvases in which stenciled all-capital black letters spell out phrases like “sell the house sell the car sell the kids.” The planar use of the word as a painterly method has come to symbolize Wool’s stark energy. These works typify a brash, generative moment that resonates still.

The drawings reproduced in Black Book have been exhibited in their own right, notably in 2013, as part of the most comprehensive examination of Wool’s career to date, organized by New York’s Guggenheim Museum and traveling through 2014 to The Art Institute of Chicago. Transposed into an artist’s book, they suggest at least as many layers and diverted streams of information as Wool’s word paintings do. They also index, without conforming to, a crowd of artistic cultures: street art, Conceptual art, Pop. The text-based work finds a paradigmatic and tactile expression in this distributive format. Black Book is printed on smooth wove paper in an edition of 350, each copy being signed and numbered by Wool on the colophon. The book was co-published by Thea Westreich, New York, and Gisela Capitain, Cologne, and produced by Studley Press, in Massachusetts. Westreich and her husband, Ethan Wagner, who have published artist’s books since the late 1980s, are noted collectors of Wool’s work.

Black Book

Spread from Christopher Wool’s Black Book (1989)

In the winter of 2017, Wool and a co-curator, Katy Siegel, mounted the exhibition Painting Paintings (David Reed) 1975 at Gagosian at 980 Madison Avenue. As a young artist, Wool had seen these paintings of Reed’s when they were first exhibited, at New York’s Susan Caldwell Gallery in 1975, and they had marked him deeply. In part he was struck by the similarities between Reed’s marks and Western writing conventions, since Reed had applied his wet-into-wet brushstrokes from left to right, top to bottom, as though applying script to a page. In this way the works share a lineage with Cy Twombly’s blackboard paintings of the mid-1960s. Revisited forty years later, these paintings of Reed’s, which have a lilting, narrative quality even in their abstraction, invite an approach to Wool’s word works through the themes of artistic progeny and cyclical exchange.

Artwork © Christopher Wool; photos: Rob McKeever

Painting Paintings (David Reed) 1975

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

New York, 1975

Katy Siegel and Christopher Wool discuss David Reed’s paintings and the New York art scene in 1975.

Mercedes Matter with students at the New York Studio School. Photo: Herbert Matter, courtesy the Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries

Game Changer
Mercedes Matter

Lauren Mahony and Michael Tcheyan pay homage to the founder of the New York Studio School.

A gray and pink painting by Christopher Wool. Abstract.

Christopher Wool: Part Two

Gray turns to pink or his twenty-first century, much of it in Texas. Text by Richard Hell.

A Christopher Wool painting from 1994. White background, with black and pink enamel.

Christopher Wool: Part One

Christopher Wool and his unlikely heroes or conceptual or not? Text by Richard Hell.

Cover of the Winter 2019 Gagosian Quarterly, featuring a selection from a black-and-white Christopher Wool photograph

Now available
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.

The cover of the Fall 2019 Gagosian Quarterly magazine. Artwork by Nathaniel Mary Quinn

Now available
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.

Still from video Visions of the Self: Jenny Saville on Rembrandt

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.

Free Arts NYC

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.

The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, New York

The Kitchen: Fifty-Year Anniversary

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the trailblazing New York institution The Kitchen, we present an oral history that includes contributions from Laurie Anderson, Charles Atlas, Wade Guyton, Jacqueline Humphries, Joan Jonas, Ralph Lemon, and Anicka Yi. Statements organized by Christopher Bollen and Tim Griffin.

Ewa Juszkiewicz, Untitled (after Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun), 2020, oil on canvas, 63 × 47 ¼ inches (160 × 120 cm)

Ewa Juszkiewicz

Lisa Small, senior curator of European art at the Brooklyn Museum, considers the historical precedents for Ewa Juszkiewicz’s painting practice.

Installation view, Meleko Mokgosi: Democratic Intuition, Gagosian, Britannia Street, London, September 29–December 12, 2020. Artwork

Meleko Mokgosi: Democratic Intuition

Meleko Mokgosi writes about his eight-chapter painting cycle Democratic Intuition (2013–20), an epic of southern African life and folklore, on view at Gagosian in London in his first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom and Europe. Introduction by Louise Neri.