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  • Provenance

    Galleria Massimo De Carlo, Milan

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rudolf Stingel has built an impressive oeuvre demystifying the idea of the work of art and the creation process. He challenges the idea of the hand of the artist by including others in the creation process in some of his works, as he did with his latest exhibition at the Whitney Museum where he encouraged viewers to make their mark on the silvered walls. He brings forth the traditional structure of painting in entirely new ways, using, for example, fragments of Rococo wallpaper, silver insulation board incised with graffiti, a mirrored floor, an oversized photograph, or in the present lot a rectangle of white Styrofoam trampled by footprints. The Styrofoam is nearly completely melted away, as if to push the limits of a painting as far as possible. Could the surface even completely disappear and still be a painting?
    Stingel was influenced by Piero Manzoni, a fellow Italian artist who playfully used diverse, unexpected materials, as seen in the polystyrene pellet works he created in 1959-60. Rudolf Stingel’s use of industrial elements nevertheless always remain extremely elegant, and especially in the current lot, quite poetic. Untitled, 2003 is created through a somewhat performative process, by stepping on the thick surface in boots dipped in lacquer thinner, which melts the Styrofoam as if it were the very ice crystals making up snow. Rudolf Stingel’s painting is at once abstract, with subtle variations of white brought about by the footprints’ shadows, reminiscent of a Robert Ryman painting, and figurative, as an image of melting snow. The work is a visual memory of the snowy Alpine terrain in Northern Italy where Stingel spent his childhood.

  • Artist Biography

    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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Styrofoam and silicone on canvas.

78 x 59 in. (198.1 x 149.9 cm).

Signed and dated “Stingel 2003” on the reverse.

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $481,000

Contemporary Art Part I

15 May 2008, 7pm
New York