Christopher Wool


    EACH OF THE EIGHT LARGE PAINTINGS—all Untitled, 2011—that Christopher Wool is showing at this year’s Venice Biennale is dominated by a bulbous central blotch, taller than it is wide. Yet it feels wrong to call these looming blotches “shapes”: They have very few of the characteristics that we understand as constituting shape, since the contours, sometimes defined, elsewhere disintegrate and become patchy, and each nonshape partially continues in a faint area to one side. The images recall Rorschach tests because there are suggestions of symmetry, but one quickly realizes they aren’t


    MARTIN KIPPENBERGER SPAWNED A WEALTH OF ART-WORLD legends in his truncated career. His practice seemed specifically designed to maintain a steady buildup of anecdotes, many of which continue to circulate today, six years after his death. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of Kippenberger’s birth, this month sees the opening of a major retrospective of his entire career at the Museum für Neue Kunst ZKM in Karlsruhe, with additional stops in Vienna and Eindhoven. Though his influence in Europe will be debated and discussed for a long time to come, there is no question that he is one of

  • Christopher Wool

    I met Kippenberger in 1986 or 1987 on my first trip to Cologne; of course I’d already heard a lot about him. We were at the Königswasser bar, and Kippenberger, keeping a low profile, was camped out in the back by the cigarette machine. He was wearing a suit and a turtleneck; I thought he looked like a priest.

    Some of the best stand-up performance I ever saw was Martin telling jokes in the back of some bar or restaurant. I must have heard the “wishy-washy joke”—an endless and basically senseless wordplay—ten times before I had someone explain it to me, but I always laughed like crazy anyway; his