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Feet Don't Fail Me Now
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Feet Don't Fail Me Now
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About the item

Wools work is funky, but it is high funk. It is consciously funky, from its appropriation of graffiti tactics to its urban povera esthetic to its references to funk music Christopher Wool takes it to the bridge, spanning abstract expressionism and pop, drama and comedy, funk and the sublime. -Glenn OBrien, Apocalypse and Wallpaper in Hans Werner Holzwarth, Ed., Christopher Wool, Cologne, 2008, p. 11)\nFeet dont fail me now\nBegging please dont make a fool of me\nFeet dont fail me now\nPlease dont keep me where I should not be\nFeet dont fail me now\nStop pretending that youve gone to sleep\nFeet dont fail me now\nBegging please dont make a fool of me\n-Utopia, Feet Dont Fail Me Now, 1982\nVisually explosive in its frenetic composition and enthralling in its dense application of pitch-black enamel paint on aluminum support, Christopher Wools monumentally scaled and intricately layered Feet Dont Fail Me Now from 1995 is a key touchstone of the artists revolutionary investigation into the genre of painting. The present work hurtles the viewer into a full-throttle assault of expressive gesture, layering screen after screen of a variety of Wools characteristic floral patterns atop one another in beautifully crisp strata of imagery. Sweet, daisy like flowers erupt in explosions of petals amid tulips and black-eyed susans, all overlaid atop one another in richly saturated pigment. Complementing the floral bursts dominating the composition are lighter passages of grisailles, thin veils of paint adding depth and a gritty street aesthetic. Borrowing its title from Utopias hit song of 1982, Feet Dont Fail Me Now, Wools riotous composition nearly reverberates with an energy and dynamism that exemplifies the downtown counterculture and punk edginess of the 1980s and 90s in New York City. The present work has remained in the esteemed private collection of Norah and Norman Stone for over twenty years, and was notably included in the artists first major survey in the United States: Christopher Wool, which travelled to The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsbugh in 1998-1999, and emerges today as an incontrovertible masterpiece from the artists incomparable oeuvre.\nThe present work roars to life in a paroxysm of painterly mastery, vibrating in oily black pulses as if emitting from subwoofer speakers. Enlarging and reproducing floral motifs from rubber stamps, Wool repeats the same stamps in dense layers of thick black paint atop a pristine enamel surface. The accumulated layers build up an impenetrable thicket of cacophonous flora; although each flower is an easily replicated stencil, the varying positions, angles, and layers bring to life an individuality in each form. Larger flowers bloom gloriously, surrounded by smaller fellows that hum quietly at the edges amid diminutive spheres that call to mind the raw elements of nature, such as pebbles and grit. As petals, flower stalks, and various vine patterns burst forth across the surface atop grades of thickly applied enamel and overlapping drips, Wool creates a picture plane rife with action that simultaneously imparts a stark flatness. It was in these heavily layered paintings of the mid-1990s that Wool first explored the aesthetic possibilities of intense overprinting and clogging of his screensas exemplified in Feet Dont Fail Me Now. Two centralized masses crush together at the center of the composition, against which the edges of each screen reveal the artists process. These angular planes read like consecutive frames of a film or edges of walls and streets in an urban landscape, emphasized in the hints of black spray paint.\nIn the sumptuous painterly extravagance of the present work, we are made privy to the schema of procedural omissions or glitches that disrupt the ostensibly decorative pattern that it presents. As explained by Ann Goldstein, these paintings from the early 1990s explored image constructions as simultaneous products of both build-up and erasure: The banality that one associates with Andy Warhols silkscreened flowers is overwhelmed by the grittiness of Wools intense and seemingly out-of-control compositions. The first silkscreen works continue the additive process by laying black flower images on top of each other. Wool later introduced white into the works, painting out certain areas, and then silkscreening the black images again, wherein the process that produces the works becomes both additive and reductive. (Ann Goldstein in Exh. Cat., Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art (and travelling), Christopher Wool, 1998, p. 262) By choosing to represent flowers, Wool inserts himself into a larger tradition of still-life painting, one that includes such masters as Vincent van Gogh, Marc Chagall, Roy Lichtenstein, and notably, Andy Warhol; indeed, with the silkscreen technique, Wool isolates the motif of flowers against monochrome grounds and empties them of meaning in their purely decorative nature. Welcoming the potential for error in his mechanical process of paint application, in Feet Dont Fail Me Now, Wool revels in the mishaps of dripped paint and slipped outlines: ghostly traces of previous impressions are visible along the outer edges of the composition, while hazy zones of sprayed paint and smeared off-register screens reveal the human error behind the depersonalized formal template. Neville Wakefield writes: Since the mid-80s, concurrent with the word paintings, Wool has been making abstract works based on decorative motifs. Paint is applied to a flat surface using stamps, patterned rollers, stencils, and screens to create repeat patterns reminiscent of flocked wallpaper or wrought-iron tracery. At once seductive and forbidding, these grilles bring the cool, minimalist restraint of the printing and stamping process to the baroque impulse. Even at their most elegant, they carry with them the inky obduracy of blots on the copybook of both gestural and decorative painting. (Neville Wakefield, Christopher Wool, Elle Decor, February - March 1999, p. 58)\nWools black and white paintings are multifaceted and evocative of the allover compositional strategy of Jackson Pollock; the minimal palette, line, and gesture of Brice Marden; and mediated by Warhols integration of mechanical methods. Through cumulative acts of reductionism and recapitulation, Wool has stripped down the essential facets of painting to engender a union of process with picture making. In a progression started with the roller and rubber-stamp paintings, through to the stenciled text pictures and the most recent corpus of silkscreened gestural abstractions, Wool has explored a mutating, visually arresting landscape of seemingly mechanical, cipher-like reductions; coolly detached and emptied of heroic angst. Conflating art historical tradition with contemporary counterculture and painterly gesture with a silkscreened technique, Christopher Wools monumental, exquisite and rare masterpiece Feet Dont Fail Me Now is a breathtaking example by one of today's intellectually engaging and iconoclastic artists.\nSigned, titled Untitled, dated 1995, and numbered P209 on the reverse
US
NY, US
US

medium

Enamel on aluminum

creator

Wool, Christopher

dimensions

108 by 72 in. 274.3 by 182.9 cm.

exhibition

New York, Luhring Augustine Gallery, Christopher Wool, April - June 1995 Milwaukee, Milwaukee Art Museum, 25 Americans: Painting in the 90s, September - November 1995, p. 22, no. 66, illustrated Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art; Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art; and Basel, Kuntshalle Basel, Christopher Wool, July 1998 - May 1999, p. 49, illustrated (Los Angeles and Pittsburgh), p. 209 (Basel) Calistoga, Stonescape, Works to Inaugurate a Space, October 2007 - February 2009, n.p., illustrated in color 

literature

Neville Wakefield, "Christopher Wool Paintings Marked by Confrontation and Restraint," Elle Decor, February - March 1999, p. 62, illustrated in color Ernest Beck, "Treasure Troves," Worth, May 2008, p. 51, illustrated in color (in installation) Pilar Viladas, "Insider Art," The New York Times Magazine, December 2007, p. 54, illustrated (in installation) Hans Werner Holzwarth, ed., Christopher Wool, Cologne, 2008, p. 166, illustrated in color

provenance

Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York Acquired by the present owners from the above in 1995

signedDate

Signed, titled Untitled, dated 1995, and numbered P209 on the reverse

artist_range_end

1955

artist_range_start

1955

consignmentDesignation

Christopher Wool: Two Masterworks from the Collection of Norah and Norman Stone

creator_nationality_dates

B.1955


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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