American painter. After a short period of formal training as a painter at the New York Studio School, he dropped out and immersed himself in the world of underground film and music. He re-emerged creatively as a painter of severe unrelieved abstractions. Using figurated rollers from hardware stores, Wool created a series of untitled paintings that vacillate between floral decoration and abstraction with a concentration on the meeting of an economic utility and a debased aesthetic tradition. Later, he began to use a system of screen printing the floral imagery, which he decomposed through overprinting and overpainting, as in Maggie’s Brain (1995; Chicago, IL, A. Inst.).
Wool began to create word paintings in the late 1980s, reportedly after having seen graffiti on a brand new white truck. In an early example Apocalypse Now (1988; New York, MOMA), the words ‘SELL THE HOUSE SELL THE CAR SELL THE KIDS’ are stencilled in upper-case letters on to the surface. Using a system of alliteration, with the words often broken up by a grid system, or with the vowels removed (as in ‘TRBL’ or ‘DRNK’), Wool’s word paintings often demand reading aloud to make sense. The visual as well as verbal violence of his use of language is most obvious in Please Please Please (1994; priv. col., see 1998 exh. cat., p. 238), where the repetition of a single word symbolizes the pleading of a victim.
From Grove Art Online
© 2009 Oxford University Press