WOOL, Christopher, b. 1955
The only book created by American Post-conceptual artist Christopher Wool from his most important series of letter paintings.
New York : Thea Westreich and Cologne : Gisella Capitain, 1989. Elephant folio (585 mm tall), black papered boards, title page, 17 screenprints, colophon. Limited to 350 copies signed and numbered by the artist (a further 8 artist’s proofs also issued). A fine copy.
Born in Boston in 1955, Christopher Wool is widely considered to be the most influential Post-conceptual visual artist of the twentieth century. In the 1980s Wool began composing his first word-based series of paintings, drawing inspiration from the stencilled labels painted on the sides of military vehicles, along with the urban graffiti found across New York. ‘In the 1980s, Christopher Wool was doing a Neo-Pop sort of painting using commercial rollers to apply decorative patterns to white panels. One day he saw a new white truck violated by the spray-painted words “sex” and “luv.” Mr. Wool made his own painting using those words and went on to make paintings with big, black stenciled letters saying things like “Run Dog Run” or “Sell the House, Sell the Car, Sell the Kids.” The paintings captured the scary, euphoric mood of a high-flying period not unlike our own’ (Ken Johnson, ‘Art in Review: Christopher Wool’, The New York Times, March 17, 2000).
In Black Book, the artist’s only book created from his most important series, Wool fills each page with a staccato-like series of stencilled black letters, forming words such as TERRORIST; PERSUADER; EXTREMIST; CELEBRITY. The letter forms are almost abstract, with words broken arbitrarily into groups of three letters equally spaced across three lines. As a sequence they become the syllables in an unremitting mantra. Wool formalises the rawness and immediacy of street graffiti and presents an assault of word-images which, through their minimalism, are at the same time benign and unsettling.
Wool’s letter art from the late 1980s, epitomised in Black Book, is some of the most sought after in the contemporary art world. These works are post-pop icons of the ongoing deconstruction of our sense of security, identity and familiar space.
Retrospectives of the work of Christopher Wool have been held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and numerous other major institutions.