Christopher Wool was born in 1955 and grew up in Chicago. In 1972, he enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, where he studied painting with Richard Pousette-Dart. He left for Manhattan after a year and attended classes at the New York Studio School. Wool soon became immersed in the underground film and music scenes of downtown New York, taking a short hiatus from painting to study film at New York University in the late 1970s. A couple of years later he returned to painting while working as a studio assistant to the sculptor Joel Shapiro, this time fully devoting himself to the medium.
In 1984 and 1986, Wool received his first solo exhibitions at New York’s Cable Gallery. An institutional presentation of Wool’s work was held at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1989 and since then his work has been exhibited widely at institutions around the world, including Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne, and Kunsthalle Bern (1991); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1998), Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh (1998–99), and Kunsthalle Basel (1999); Institut Valencià d’Art Modern and Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg (2006); Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto (2008–09), and Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2009); and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2012). Wool has also participated in the Whitney Biennial, New York (1989), Documenta, Kassel (1992), the Lyon Biennial (2003), and the Venice Biennale (2011). He has been named a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, served as a DAAD Berlin Artist-in-Residence, and received the Wolfgang Hahn Prize Cologne.
Wool currently lives and works in New York City and Marfa, Texas.