Since the mid-1980s, Christopher Wool has critically examined the complexities of abstraction and representation using techniques, processes, images, and languages drawn from popular and vernacular culture. In reconsidering process, he has consistently expanded on the conventions of the medium, in effect reinventing it with each new body of work. Between 1989 and 1990, Wool made his Black Book paintings, a series featuring nine-letter words that describe character traits, portraits, types, or roles, such as “hypocrite,” “terrorist,” “assassin,” and, in Untitled, “paranoiac.” Rendered in black enamel letters stacked in rows of three, each word is “read” as an all-over composition, albeit one with a clear figure/ground relationship between the uninflected chalky white surface of the alkyd-on-aluminum support and the shiny paint of the letters. Viewed together, works in this series resonate as a cast of characters or as the multiple facets of one.
Christopher Wool (b. 1955, Chicago; lives and works in New York)
Alkyd and acrylic on aluminum
69 x 64 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Purchased with funds provided by Dagny Janss Corcoran, Douglas S. Cramer, and an anonymous donor