“Is it a painting or a process?” asks Christopher Wool about the invincible medium. For the past two decades, he has been interested in the act of painting itself and in the physical properties of paint. Using spray paint, stencils, and stamps, he constructs his works with an austere simplicity that recalls Frank Stella’s highly regimented black-stripe paintings, occasionally allowing hasty marks, paint trails, and drips to enter the surface. In 1987, Wool began using common words, vernacular slang, and popular jokes as part of his selected kitsch imagery of flowers, vines, clovers, and dots. Drunk II (1990) belongs to a group of four-letter-word paintings in which he stacked the first two letters over the last two—in this case, omitting the only vowel from the composition. Rendered in Wool’s recognizable style of large black sans-serif capital letters on a white vertical rectangle, Drunk II portrays a mysterious acronym open to interpretation, thus raising the question: is it the word that means something or how it is painted?
Drunk II entered the Walker’s collection as a generous gift from artist Robert Gober, Wool’s close friend and occasional collaborator.