The New Yorker has described Wood’s work as ‘painting at its colourful, pattern-happy, and energetic best’ and as connecting ‘the dots from Henri Matisse to Stuart Davis to David Hockney.’ Critic Roberta Smith writing in The New York Times also stated that ‘more than ever his works negotiate an uneasy truce among the abstract, the representational, the photographic and the just plain weird.’
‘You could call [my work] a visual diary, or even a personal history,’ Wood has said of his flat forms and rich textures, which are reminiscent of collage. ‘I’m not going to paint something that doesn’t have anything to do with me.’
Born in Boston in 1977, Wood was exposed to the arts at an early age: his father was an architect, whilst his grandfather’s collection contained works by some of the 20th century’s most celebrated artists, including Alexander Calder, Robert Motherwell, Jim Dine and Andy Warhol. He also owned Francis Bacon’s painting George Dyer Talking, before selling it in 1980 to pay for the education of his grandchildren.
In 1999, Wood received a BA from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York, with a major in psychology and a minor in studio art. In 2002, he was awarded an MFA in painting and drawing from the University of Washington in Seattle. Shortly after, Wood began assisting the painter Laura Owens. He also moved to Los Angeles, where he still lives and works, sharing a studio with his wife, the Japanese ceramicist Shio Kusaka.
The pair, who are both represented by Gagosian, often work in tandem and motifs can be seen migrating from one artist’s work to the other. Their work also incorporates imagery lifted from their own art collection, which includes pieces by Ed Ruscha, Alighiero Boetti and Mark Grotjahn.
In 2010, Wood held his first solo museum show at Los Angeles’ Hammer Museum. This was followed by commissions for the High Line in New York in 2014 and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2016. In 2019, the Dallas Museum in Texas presented Wood’s first major survey show, which contained 33 works from across his career.
In May 2021, Christie’s set Wood’s auction record at $6,510,000 with the still life Two Tables with Floral Pattern. That price — more than triple the work’s estimate — led to the artist being labelled the ‘reigning prince of contemporary painting.’