Exploring Wool’s work in close to 500 pages, this monograph is staggering in scope and depth. All work phases are covered in large-scale reproductions and accompanied by production Polaroids and installation photos by Wool himself. Editor Hans Werner Holzwarth has previously collaborated on several catalogues and artist’s books with Wool. Essays and analyses by Glenn O’Brien, Jim Lewis, Ann Goldstein, Anne Pontégnie, Richard Hell, and Eric Banks make this book a great read as well as a definitive study of the artist’s oeuvre so far.
In your face, achingly simple, deceptively frank, the work of Christopher Wool is so very New York. Though he owes a debt to Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art he completely transcends these genres. Whether it’s a text-based painting or an abstract spray-painted piece, Wool questions painting, like many other artists in his generation, but he doesn’t provide any easy answers. As one piece proclaims, “The harder you look the harder you look.”
Wool became known in the mid-1980s through all-over paintings produced with rubber rollers commonly used to simulate decorative wallpaper patterns on walls. By 1988 he had hit stride with his dry, dead-pan word paintings (“Trbl,” “Riot,” “Sell the House, Sell the Car, Sell the Kids”), while continuing to explore the possibilities of pattern painting. From the 1990s, he developed the painterly qualities of his work, using a mostly black-and-white palette, starting from abstract lines drawn with a spray gun or layered stock images, overpainting silk screens on linen, wiping out images, with a widening variety of media, including photography, silk screen, and computer graphics.