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Christopher Wool

First Impressions: Prints from the Anderson Collection (group show)
de Young Museum, San Francisco
2 June - 8 December 2018

Our culture is full of discussions around managing the ever-important “first impression”—that first encounter with a new person, place, thing, or idea, when opinions are often hastily formed. It can be difficult to escape the grip of a “first.” However, artworks can provide artists, viewers, and collectors with multiple opportunities for first impressions—an expression particularly apt in printmaking, since every sheet bearing a printed image is called an impression. This exhibition casts a wide net across the concept of the “first impression” to present a selection of highlights from the museum’s Anderson Graphic Arts Collection.

Among the first impressions on view are examples of artists’ first projects at a print workshop, their debut of a motif or technique, and their initial works within a series. Viewing artwork likewise provides occasions for firsts. There is the first time a viewer encounters a work of art, which is also perhaps their earliest exposure to the artist or to a specific context that reveals content, form, and technique in a new way. First Impressions includes recent additions to the Anderson Collection by Louise Nevelson and Christopher Wool and marks the debut of these prints at the de Young.

And there are firsts for the collector. An inaugural purchase within a previously unexplored area of art may send him or her off in new directions, as did Mary Margaret “Moo” Anderson’s first encounter in 1968 with Richard Diebenkorn’s 41 Etchings Drypoints, itself the artist’s first publication with the then-fledgling Crown Point Press. The suite of prints—which Moo and her husband, “Hunk” (Harry, who died in February), count as their earliest acquisition within the realm of contemporary art—inspired in them a lifelong commitment to collecting contemporary American prints.

de Young Museum, San Francisco


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Christopher Wool

Maybe Maybe Not. Christopher Wool and the Hill Collection (solo show)
Hill Art Foundation, New York
9 February - 20 May 2019

Installation view of Maybe Maybe Not: Christopher Wool and the Hill Collection © Christopher Wool. Photograph by Matthew Herrmann © Hill Art Foundation
Installation view of Maybe Maybe Not: Christopher Wool and the Hill Collection © Christopher Wool. Photograph by Matthew Herrmann © Hill Art Foundation

Maybe Maybe Not presents an emblematic selection of the work of American artist Christopher Wool. It inaugurates the exhibition program of the Hill Art Foundation, a cultural center conceived to offer broad public access to the seminal collection of contemporary and historical works assembled by J. Tomilson and Janine Hill over the past four decades.

Since coming to prominence in the 1980s, Christopher Wool has conducted a richly nuanced investigation of the possibilities of pictorial composition. This presentation of paintings, works on paper, photographs and prints encapsulates the evolution of the artist’s career, ranging from early experiments with readymade forms in his pattern and word paintings to more recent explorations of spontaneous gesture and digital intervention. Threading through Wool’s use of stenciled flowers, wildly looping spray paint, passages of violent erasure, and silkscreened apparitions of his own past imagery is a tension between freedom and constraint that has always animated his work.

Photography has long played an integral role in Wool’s practice, and this exhibition debuts two new photographic series. Whereas his previous work in the medium focused on scenes of alienation and degradation in the urban landscape, this more recent production documents the landscape of West Texas, where the artist has a home. Employing a disarming convergence of exposures, Yard locates unexpected sculptural vignettes in the ramshackle detritus surrounding semi-rural dwellings, while Road captures empty stretches of rough, overgrown track in which a destination is always deferred.

Hill Art Foundation, New York