Christopher Wool painting poised to set auction record - Christie's

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A painting by American artist Christopher Wool, thought to be one of the most seminal works of contemporary art, could sell for upwards of $15 million at auction next month, setting a world record price for the artist, Christie's said on Friday.

"Apocalypse Now," a 1988 word painting will go under the hammer at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art sale on November 12 in New York.

Other highlights in the auction include "Balloon Dog (Orange)," a sculpture by Jeff Koons which could surpass the artist's current record of $33.6 million set in 2012, and Andy Warhol's "Coca Cola (3)" painting.

"Apocalypse Now" shows the phrase "SELL THE HOUSE, SELL THE CAR, SELL THE KIDS" in bold upper-case letters. The words are taken from Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 film of the same name.

Brett Gorvy, Christie's chairman and international head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, described it as like a picture puzzle and said it is the essential image of our times.

"You really do feel this is chaos in every way. Chaos in the way you interpret the painting. The impression of this is almost like a punk song. It is so loud in its expression and yet at the same time so subtle in terms of its execution," he said.

"This is raw power. We are not talking about pretty art. This is a picture that really gets you in the gut," he added in an interview.

Born in Chicago in 1955, Wool is considered by art experts to be one of the most important abstract artists of his generation. His paintings are influenced by graffiti and the streets of New York.

The world record of $7.7 million for his work was achieved in 2012 in London. The work spells out the word "FOOL."

Wool's work is shown in galleries and museums around the world. He is known for his stenciled word paintings and abstract work and techniques.

Gorvy said Wool, who lives and works in New York, was influenced by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Jasper Johns, and he in turn has had an impact on artists working today.

"The history of Christopher Wool is very present within this painting but really it is the history of art since the creation of this work," he said. "When we define this as the emblem of a generation, it truly is."

(Reporting by Patricia Reaney, editing by Paul Casciato)