The Words and Textures of Christopher Wool

  • by Jenny Bahn

Best known for his word art in black and white stenciled topography more readily associated with the plywood walls surrounding construction sites (i.e. not Helvetica or Comic Sans), artist Christopher Wool flushes out post-conceptual ideas in phrases both familiar and foreign. The words rumble towards one another without spaces, kicking themselves to the next line before finishing the words: “FLOATLIKEABUTTERFLY       STINGLIKEABEE,” “RIOT,” “SELLTHEHOUSESELLTHEKIDS.”

Born in Boston, Wool eventually made his way to New York in the early ‘70s, enrolling in the New York Studio School for some formal training as a painter before dropping out, securing his own urban-inspired aesthetic over the following years. Allegedly influenced by a truck covered in graffiti, Wool began working with the stenciled style he would become known for—that highbrow concept in lowbrow form.

Less iconic, though no less good, are Wool’s abstract paintings, in which he spray paints clear lines and more precise designs and then wipes them down with a solvent-soaked rag. The result are works that look like those of an uncertain artist, switching directions in a non-committal artistic process. More layered than Wool’s word paintings, they serve as a nice visual alternative, more indirect and textural, but complimentary. Probably a good excuse to buy them in pairs.

Anyone have a spare $26.5 million lying around?


Images courtesy of the artist. 


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