Christopher Wool is obsessed with doing things wrong. In his retrospective at the Guggenheim, comprising nearly 90 paintings, photographs, and works on paper, Wool demonstrates that meaning resides in mistakes (intentional or otherwise), disappointing outcomes, decay, and uncertainty. Appropriately, the show kicks off with a painting called Minor Mishap from 2001. Although in most of the paintings in the show Wool’s palette is limited to black and white, this piece features an ostensibly impetuous splash of red paint. Closer examination reveals that this bright splash is carefully contrived, generated by enlarging an image of an image – which amplifies a half-tone pattern – and then silk-screening the resulting image on linen. The result (or at least one result) of his work is the fusion of the emotional content of Abstract Expressionism with the humor of Pop Art, the reprographic processes of the Pictures artists, and the nihilism of the 1970s punk music scene.
Chrisotpher Wool, Minor Mishap, 2001, silkscreen ink on linen, 274.3 x 182.9 cm. Image © Christopher Wool.