For the past 30 years, Christopher Wool has made graffiti-like abstractions with paint rollers, spray guns, and turpentine smudges, stenciled floral patterns and charged phrases (fuckem if they can’t take a joke) on canvases, and digitally manipulated old paintings into printed works via Photoshop. Beginning October 25 (through January 22), Wool’s career will unfurl inside the Guggenheim Museum in New York in a major retrospective that draws new connections between the Chicago-born painter’s abstract works (above, Untitled, 2000), two major photographic series, and two early-career collaborative works, one of them with the artist Richard Prince. Wool’s iconic word pieces (Untitled, 2000) will also be on view—from his first, Sex Luv, 1987, to his acclaimed Black Book Drawings Suite, 1989—22 works on paper formed from eight or nine stacked letters, like Terrorist and Paranoiac (both 1989). “So many of Wool’s word paintings conjure an atmosphere of anxiety and hostility,” says the associate curator Katherine Brinson. “Are they accusing the viewer or society at large? Or maybe they could be read as a caustic self-portrait?” You be the judge.
Image: courtesy of Christopher Wool