Rudolf Stingel - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, November 15, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Gagosian, New York
    Private collection, USA
    Modern Collections, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Gagosian Gallery, Rudolf Stingel, March 4 – April 16, 2011

  • Literature

    A. McDonald, Rudolf Stingel, Gagosian Gallery, 2011, pp. 31 and 73 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot, Untitled, 2010, comprised of oil and enamel on canvas, stands as a ground of worship for brilliant hues, kaleidoscopic textures, and renowned artistic process. The iridescent surface seems as supple as the carpet which birthed its impressions. Standing at nearly ten feet tall, the canvas appears almost woven from thousands of silver silk threads, braided and entwined to create a luxurious surface inviting the viewer’s veneration and celebration of the brilliance before them.

    Stemming from his self-titled 2011 exhibition, Rudolf Stingel’s series of silver carpet paintings define an investigative arch that has spanned over two decades. Prior to his painterly explorations of color and reflectivity, the artist’s practice was informed early on by the tactility of woodcarving and the cultural tradition implicit in such craft. Upon landing in a conceptually driven New York art scene in 1987, Stingel had already transitioned from abstract painting to enamel works on canvas. Shortly thereafter, the artist began producing works that referenced painting and production, subverting the notion of Genius associated with Modern painters through the creation of Instructions, 1989, a limited edition art book outlining the step by step process of generating an enamel painting. In essence, by transforming his technique into a DIY project, Stingel’s critique simultaneously demystified the aura of studio process while alluding to the mechanized labor that structured Andy Warhol’s Factory. The present lot, Untitled, 2010, situates itself within a similar framework, colliding associations of craft, ornamentation, and the domestic sphere in dialogue with monumental scale and historic perceptions of Modern artistic innovation.

    Stingel’s vast carpet installations, most famously installed in Grand Central Terminal, have distinguished his career and much has been written about these works as imprinted surfaces, recording unique footprints and engaging the viewer’s sense of awareness in relation to spatial environment. This concern is perhaps most discernible in the artist’s footprint-laden Styrofoam works from 2003. The present lot, Untitled, 2010, plays with this very perception of trace and memory– it is “the memory of a painting.” One imagines applying silver paint to the surface of a large Persian carpet and pressing it to the primed surface of a canvas, transforming an ornate textile relief into an imprint or reversal of the object. Here, a functional and decorative object is reconstituted beyond its intended parameters; the mirrored and textured imprint
    becomes an integration of the mass produced and the unique, an object of reflection. Stingel’s silver carpet painting performs and retreats; occupying monumental scale and opulent resplendence, its commanding presence tempered by an undulating and phantom-like relief. “A carpet is a painting, and a painting is a carpet. It is only our position in relation to them that changes. Our relation to life, to a painting or to a carpet, is the same relation we have to the earth we stand on: it moves but we don’t feel
    it.” (Francesco Bonami, Rudolf Stingel, Gagosian, New York, 2010, p. 7)

    Following Bernhard Waldenfels’ philosophy of perception, contemplating the visceral presence of Untitled, 2010, arouses a tacit awareness; “when an ‘attention relief’ develops, some things stand out more than others, in much the same way as the word ‘relevance’ is derived from the Latin word relevare, which means ‘to raise up.’ For the attentive observer, this translates into preferment and deferment….What stands out not only stands out from the area, but also forms the focal point of a thematic area gradated according to proximity to, or distance from, the thematic core. What is not essential to the subject is marginalized…Center and periphery are certainly not static quantities, but rather products of an ongoing process of centering and marginalization.” (B. Wakdenfeels, Phänomenologie der Aufmerksamkeit, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp Verlag, 2004, p. 101). The series of Stingel’s silver carpets were originally installed in a long narrow passageway between two larger gallery spaces. The paintings faced each other in two rows, creating a lustrous monochromatic space of reflection. While similar in color and scale, each work is in fact unique, revealing itself to be a distinctive repository of trace. The relief of each work appears woven up into densely textured ornamentation while slightly faded elsewhere, not quite flat not quite
    static. In fact, the center and periphery of each work seem to exemplify Waldenfels’ philosophy. While we can clearly observe the imprint of a medallion at the center of the present lot, framed by lively vines and floral motifs, flanked a thick floral boarder, this imagery also rises up and fades, inviting multiple perceptions of depth and field.

    The thematic core of this series overtly shifts in front of the viewer’s gaze, the present lot proves to be the most balanced of the imprints, which almost situates it as a generative starting point– or end. The carpet is laid almost perfect across the center of the canvas; the symmetry, combined with the intricate texture, hypnotizes the viewer with its perfection and complexity. Observing the remainder of the series, varying in relief and register, it is apparent that each unique canvas encapsulates the artist’s movement. They become a record of evolution. One cannot help but read them all together, studying their motion. Generated from the same pattern, surfacing into unique gestures, Stingel’s immense silver paintings summon associations to Warhol once more. While both artists have used silver to define and envelope architectural space, Stingel’s silver paintings cans be situated within a similar meditative exploration as Warhol’s Shadows, 1978 – 1979. Spatial adornment aside, the cumulative effect of both bodies of work, Shadows, 1978 – 1979, and silver carpets, suggest an overarching abstraction from banality, a fracture in the everyday. Legend
    has it that Warhol based Shadows, 1978 – 1979, on the image of shadow cast in his office, an ephemeral motif that captures the fleeting nature of time and memory. While the one hundred and two paintings that comprise Shadows, 1978 – 1979, bears the serial hallmark of Warhol’s career, the varying textures, colors, and registers of each element emphasize a fissure– even in repetition. In an attempt to undermine his monumental accomplishment, Warhol referred to his Shadows, 1978 – 1979, as “décor” and while he and Stingel would share an interest in the ornamental, their works continue to mesmerize the viewer; carefully comparing gradated shifts of form and perception within each step.

    From a later series by Warhol, Rorschach, 1984, comprised of acrylic on canvas, features a similar intricate design and symmetry as the present lot. The totemic form in the center opens its wings across the expansive space. It’s perfectly symmetrical form is deeply saturated in viscous golden pigment. The ambiguous form evokes a deep mystery in the arms and legs that spread from the central totem. The suggestive nature, created through both the animalistic shapes and golden pigments, mimics the tests after which the series is named. The inkblots given to patients to evaluate their responses are meant to unearth and reveal the subconscious of the viewer; in the present lot, Untitled, 2010, the mirrored surface, dense texture, and swirling imprints act as a kind of ledger, enchanting both the conscious and subconscious in each of its viewers.

  • 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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oil and enamel on canvas
120 x 96 in. (304.8 x 243.8 cm)
Signed and dated “Stingel 2010” on the reverse.

$1,000,000 - 1,500,000 

Sold for $1,314,500

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

15 November 2012
New York