Sold for $4,002,500 at the Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 10 May 2012, New York.
The problem is: If you take text and image and you put them together, the multiple readings that are possible in either poetry or in something visual are reduced to one specific reading. By putting the two together, you limit the possibilities. Text and image don’t always work together in the way music and song lyrics become part of each other. (Christopher Wool, in “Christopher Wool and Richard Hell”, Interview Magazine, May 2008).
Since the early 1980’s, Christopher Wool has produced artwork that simultaneously stems from his immediate environment and defines it. Inspired by the words “Sex Luv” graffitied in black paint onto the side of a white truck outside of the artist’s studio, Wool adopted these spontaneously scrawled words from their everyday context and recontextualized them to occupy a space of definitive urgency. With Untitled (S 69), 1992, black text is painted onto a monochromatic white ground; each letter inherits the official and authoritative allure of a stencil, slightly undermined by drips of paint that have managed to evade the confines of their outlined boarders. A small spatter of paint and a lone drip at the lower right corner of the canvas invite an imagined hurriedness, conveying action over representation.
Gazing at Wool’s composition, the stylistic and symbolic quality of each vowel and each consonant that unite letters and meaning, SEX LUV exudes an aesthetic evenness and cohesion. The meanings of these words engage with one another and invite complicity as signifiers, denoting a primal and entwined association between a physical and emotional act. However, observed as linguistic symbols, the structural form of the letters and words are rendered in such a way that one form does not overpower the other, in fact, they manage to generate a graphic and stylistic unity, they become somewhat of a symmetrical sign. In this way, Wool manages to underscore the complexity of semantics, complicating perception by conflating signage and artwork, orchestrating the viewer’s awareness between looking, understanding, and their implicit constraints.