Christopher Wool / Untitled / 2007 / Enamel on linen / 126 x 96 inches / (320.04 x 243.84 cm) / Luhring Augustine
I guess there is a famous quote by Christopher Wool that goes something like “The harder you look, the harder you look.” I find that the longer I look at his work, or the more that I look at his work, the more I want there to be and it just isn’t. I want there to be more paint, more layers, more color, more erasures. I want it to be something more than a spray painted Brice Marden de Kooning Basquiat derivation. To be something more than a derivative work or a simulacra. I find myself asking, are they alienated pictures, cool intellectual, ironic, sad, frustrated? I don’t know. Standing in front of them I feel an absence, a loss, a longing for something, or a searching for something that I’m just not getting. There is something elusive about these paintings, something always out of reach, yet right there in front of me hanging on the wall.
However, this seems to me to be their goal or function–to frustrate or disturb the tranquility–to crack apart the security of my own assumptions about painting. In fact my first thought- and a dangerous thought for an abstract painter- was to assume that the work was somehow derivative, that Marden, de Kooning, and Basquiat are original, authentic, and superior, while Christopher Wool’s work is secondary, derivative, or even “parasitic.” Though I know very little about Christopher Wool, I would like to imagine that to overcome this idea- that artists in the past were original, authentic, or superior and artists working in the present are derivative- and move beyond this pattern of thinking, is a fundamental theme of Christopher Wool’s work. If not, it’s at least something I am thinking about in response to the paintings at Luhring Augustine and the more I look at them and reflect, the more I see them.
Wool is an American painter known for creating pictorial forms, often void of color due to his loyalty to black and white. First gaining notoriety from his ‘word pictures’ of the late 1980s, Wool now works frequently with enamel paint on canvas, creating layered pieces, marked with paint spatter and sporadic drips.
Other characteristic tendencies include erasing almost-entire pictures then writing over them with black spray paint. He approaches art as a process that needs revision and often makes visible corrections within his works. (artobserved.com)
Chirstopher Wool at Luhring Augustine, 531 West 24th Street through June 21.Tags: abstract painting, canvas, Artist, Baudrillard, Willem de Kooning, abstract painter