Students Respond: “Untitled”

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Christopher Wool
Untitled, 1988
Alkyd and flashe on aluminum, 96 x 72
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Ostrow

I chose this piece because I’m interested in its clarity and simplicity. I am really fascinated by neat decorative patterns in paintings and usually draw on them in my own work to fill backgrounds and empty spaces. I like how here it operates as the entire work. I think it brings attention to decorative art in a pleasing and successful way.

Although I am not extremely familiar with Wool’s work, I notice that this work and a few others from the same period are a bit unusual for him, as they highlight repeated motifs that could be read as purely “idyllic” or “pretty”. Typically, he works more conceptually with an emphasis on language and more abstract imagery. This suggests to me that this work “Untitled” offers more than meets the eye. The “niceness” gives way to the harshness of its colors, materiality, and the irregularities of the composition. The flowers themselves, if they are flowers at all, are absurd and contain sharp points. Wool points to the complexity and seriousness for which decorative patterns are often, wrongly, not credited.

-Elizabeth Toledano ’20

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