American artist Christopher Wool is regarded as one of the most important contemporary painters today. He was born in Boston in 1955, and lives and works in New York.
Wool is known for the stark, expressive power of his paintings, whether they be abstract renderings on canvas or the bold word paintings he became particularly famous for in the 1990s, that consist of large black stencilled letters silkscreened onto white canvasses, or painted in black enamel on aluminum. Wool arranges words or phrases in unexpected abbreviated or run-on ways, which disrupt any straightforward reading of their meaning and helps bring about a more personal association.
This forceful typography asserts tough messages, often famous sound bites, most famously: SELL THE HOUSE, SELL THE CAR, SELL THE KIDS . This notorious quip comes from the Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film Apocalypse Now. Wool’s 1988 word painting of the phrase sold for over $26 million at Christie’s New York in 2013, and his Untitled (Riot) for $29.9 million at Sotheby’s in 2015.
As well as word paintings, Wool is known for his earlier near-abstract pattern paintings and purely abstract works, sometimes created using a spray gun—evocative of urban street artists.
Wool has had numerous shows at prestigious international galleries including important retrospectives at New York’s Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.