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  • Provenance

    Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Stingel constantly aims to redefine what painting can be, what it has been and what it is.” FRANCESCO BONAMI

    Untitled, executed in 2007, is a stunning example of Rudolf Stingel's wallpaper-inspired black monochromes. The painting’s repetitive patterning replicate those traditionally found in damask, a woven textile originally produced from silk in Syria, and later applied to ornate rococo and baroque wallpaper and woodcarvings. Appropriating the original damask pattern, black enamel has been applied to the monochrome canvas. Its subsequent removal has left a deep residue and varying trace upon the surface. Through such a process, Stingel cleverly shifts our expectations of painting and transforms a banal, pre-existing blueprint into high art.

    Stingel’s upbringing in the Italian Tyrol and Vienna exposed him to the unusual aesthetic amalgamation of rococo and baroque. This, alongside his education at a Tyrolean school renowned for its training in baroque decorative wood carving, has undoubtedly had a profound effect on his work. Hence, one can perceive an elaborate, even craftlike, ornamentation in the decorative patterning of the wallpaper, yet when viewed in more detail the surface reveals itself to be all at once unpredictable and uncertain. The variations of monochromatic black paint tones seem to conflict with each other, analogous to a complex colourpalette.

    Stingel has persistently pushed at the limits of painting for the past twenty years. His paintings, like those of many of his contemporaries, explore the traditions of abstraction and figuration. The German artist Gerhard Richter, for example, blurs photo-realist paintings to overcome the natural limitations of figurative painting, resulting in integrating both abstraction and figuration into one work. Stingel’s paintings, however, fall between abstraction and figuration, creating their own genre, not unlike Robert Rauschenberg’s Black Painting from the early 1950s, whose purpose was to reduce painting to its most essential nature. Rauschenberg incorporated elements of newspaper into these paintings, working it into the paint. Like Untitled, the true intricacy and craftsmanship of the work can only be seen under close inspection. Stingel explores in depth the process of painting and demonstrates clearly in this work why he is one of the leading painters of our time.

    “In Rudolf Stingel’s work, the parameters of painting and architecture are turned inside out. The traditional qualities of painting – pictorialism, flatness, illusion, composition, and autonomy– become corrupted by a new symbolic framework, in which painting metamorphoses – sometimes literally, sometimes through association–into a fragment of rococo wallpaper or stucco work, a mirrored floor, a thick rectangle of Styrofoam trampled by footprints, an oversized photograph, or a dirty carpet. Stingel’s dislocation produces a disturbing sense of artifice – an un-natural state that, in the nineteenth century, was deemed decadent and morally suspect.” (C. Iles, 'Surface Tension', Rudolf Stingel, Moscow: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2007, p. 23)

    “In Rudolf Stingel’s work, the parameters of painting and architecture are turned inside out.” CHRISSIE ILES

  • Artist Bio

    Rudolf Stingel

    Italian • 1956

    Rudolf Stingel came to prominence in the late 1980s for his insistence on the conceptual act of painting in a context in which it had been famously declared dead. Despite the prevailing minimalist and conceptual narrative of the time, the Italian-born artist sought to confront the fundamental aspirations and failures of Modernist painting through the very medium of painting itself. While his works do not always conform to the traditional definitions of painting, their attention to surface, space, color and image provide new and expanded ways of thinking about the process and "idea" of painting. Central to his multifarious and prolific oeuvre is an examination of the passage of time and the probing of the fundamental questions of authenticity, meaning, hierarchy, authorship and context by dislocating painting both internally and in time and space. Stingel is best known for his wall-to-wall installations, constructed of fabric or malleable Celotex sheets, as well as his seemingly more traditional oil-on-canvas paintings.

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oil and enamel on canvas
335.5 x 268.5 cm (132 1/8 x 105 3/4 in)
Signed and dated 'Stingel 2007' on the reverse.

£500,000 - 700,000 

sold for £668,450

Contemporary Art Evening

28 June 2012