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Guggenheim Museum presents Christopher Wool retrospective

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents a retrospective of American artist Christopher Wool on view through January 22, 2014.

Since his emergence as an artist in the 1980s, Christopher Wool has forged an agile, highly focused practice that ranges across processes and mediums, paying special attention to the complexities of painting. Filling the museum’s Frank Lloyd Wright–designed rotunda and an adjacent gallery, the exhibition Christopher Wool explores the artist’s nuanced engagement with the question of how to make a picture.

Wool was born in 1955 and grew up in Chicago. By the early 1970s he had settled in New York City, where the anarchic, interdisciplinary energy of the punk and No Wave scenes were a pivotal influence on his creative development. In the subsequent decade, he set out to explore the possibilities of painting at a time when many considered the medium outmoded and irrelevant to avant-garde practice. He made a defining breakthrough between 1986 and ’87 when he began to use paint rollers incised with floral and geometric designs to transfer patterns in severe black enamel to a white ground. Collapsing any distinction between the physical process of making the work and its visual content, these everyday tools provided the artist with a repertoire of ready-made imagery that avoided both spontaneous gesture and self-conscious compositional decisions. Instead, Wool focused on the small failures that occurred within this mechanized framework, allowing breakdowns and slippages in the patterns to accrue a delicate emotional resonance.