Known for his depictions of an unforgiving urban environment, Christopher Wool is an US painter and photographer inspired by the New York music scene of the 1970s. He began his artistic life as a painter in the early 80s in NYC. As painting had been declared a redundant art form by Douglas Crimp’s seminal 1981 essay ‘The End of Painting’, Wool focused on the act of making art, rather than making any attempt to convey a particular theme or illustrate a subject. His creations of this time look into the how rather than the what of painting. They show textures created by layering different patterned images covered over by paint rollers, taking them off and adding others, so an image of the process he went through is evident on the canvas.
Christopher Wool’s work evolved into exploring the use of type and stencils, bold black text on white backgrounds, playing with the imagery of street signage. His ground-breaking 1988 exhibition ‘Apocalypse Now’ displayed words from Francis Ford Coppola’s classic anti-war film. He moved on to work with photography as an adjunct to his painting work, using the same flat, patterned, two-dimensional style. His uncompromising portrayal of his home neighbourhood in his 2004 book ‘East Broadway Breakdown’ shows a gritty urban scene in decline.