Christopher Wool Facts

Christopher is an American artist. He is best known for his black-and-white, stenciled-letter word paintings. He is also a photographer, and he makes sculptures.

Facts About Christopher Wool

  • Christopher Wool was born in Boston and was raised in Chicago, Illinois, US, in 1955.
  • His mother was a molecular biologist and his father was a psychiatrist.
  • He studied painting at Studio School, New York with artists Jack Tworkov and Harry Krame, before dropping out to make films and music.
  • In the early 1980s, Christopher Wool worked as one of Joel Shapiro’s art studio assistants.
  • He started to create his word paintings in the late 1980s, inspired by the stenciled graffiti on the side of a white truck.
  • He is a keen photographer. Many of his photos are black-and-white shots taken at night on the streets of New York.
  • His work has been exhibited in cities all over the world, including Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Basel, Paris, Chicago, New York, Rome, and Köln.
  • He is married to the artist Charline von Heyl.
  • Christopher rarely gives interviews.
  • He lives in New York and he has a studio in the city’s East Village.
  • He also owns a house in Marfa, Texas.
  • He creates sculptures from the old fencing wire and hay-baling wore he collects from the desert near his Marfa house. He casts some of these wire sculptures in bronze and steel.
  • He is friends with the artist James Nares, the writer Glenn O’Brien and the musician and poet Richard Hell. He is also friends with the artists Robert Gober, Richard Prince, and Jeff Koons.
  • He is an admirer of the artists Dieter Roth, Martin Kippenberger, Albert Oehlen, and Mike Kelley.
  • In 2008 he collaborated with the Supreme brand on a series of skateboard decks.

More Christopher Wool Information

What type of art does Christopher Wool make?

Christopher Wool’s most famous works are his stenciled letter word paintings, featuring words and phrases arranged in a rough grid, often with line breaks awkwardly dividing the words, or with letters missed out entirely.

Some of the words and phrases used in his word painting include:

  • The harder you look, the harder you look
  • Float like a butterfly sting like a bee
  • Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids
  • Hypocrite
  • Chameleon

Although he is best known for his word paintings (often created by applying enamel onto aluminium), Christopher Wool describes himself as an abstract painter.

His abstract work is often multi-layered, and he uses rollers, DIY-store patterned rollers, brushes, silkscreens, and spray paints. He often erases or smudges portions of his work, and uses a variety of different types of lines and marks.

Most of his early work was black-and-white, but he has introduced more colour to his paintings in recent years.

With the painting the inspiration comes from the process of the work itself. Like music [making the work] is an emotional experience. It’s a visual language and it’s almost impossible to put words to it.

Christopher Wool

How much do Christopher Wool’s artworks sell for?

Christopher Wool’s word paintings are very sought after. Untitled (1990) sold for $7.7 million in 2012, Apocalypse Now (1988) sold for $26.4 million in 2013, and Riot (1990) sold for $29.9 million in 2015.