Rudolf Stingel - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 27, 2008 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; Galerie Georg Kargl, Vienna

  • Catalogue Essay

    In the present lot, Untitled, from 2002, the large scale and raw surface of Rudolf Stingel’s composition endows it with an impressive aesthetic. Stingel works with Celotex insulation board, a prefabricated material that ultimately enables him full artistic liberties as his appreciators participate in the ‘active’ art-making process. The art, here, is all in the residue left behind from participation: the graffiti marks and sketches, random acerbic quotes and doodle imagery, all evoke that solitary bathroom stall left to abandonment and desolation: “Stingel imports the sign-language of toilets, underpasses, and bus-stops into the museum, not by quoting and portraying it, but by turning the very act of so-called vandalism into a constitutive element of his art in the museum. Suddenly the path from the formal aesthetic abstraction to real-world social concretion is very short. But it is not illustrative and instrumental (like the model of interactivity commonly encountered in media art: the visitor as laboratory mouse), but interpretative and structural (suggesting independent decisions on usage and interpretation)” (J. Heiser, ‘Medium and Membrane’ in Parkett, Zurich/New York, 2006, no. 77, p. 125).

    But the present lot transcends the mundane and ultimately propels it forward amongst a larger consideration of Stingel’s impulses and place within contemporary art history: “With their cleanly finished edges, multiple and identical constituency parts, and austerity of material, the works play with the formal devices of Minimalism. But, through their trampled surfaces, they dispel any intimation of participating in that movement’s claims for a quasi-metaphysical purity or transcendence. Indeed, the scale and rectangular shape of the panels… suggest an artistic style antithetical to Minimalism – the contained spontaneity of Pollock’s dripped and poured paintings… So Stingel’s work traffics in the stylistic markers of Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism. But he reduces those markers to features of ordinary experience and leaves the animating theoretical and expressive impulses of both movements behind.” (J. Gilmore, Art in America, October, 2000) In the fashion of popularizing the process of making art and publicizing its methodology, Stingel produced a manual in 1989 with a formula on how to ‘make’ abstract paintings. Then, for the next decade, the artist adhered to his own words, constructing conceptual paintings and site-specific installations based on his own very instructions. Stingel works with ordinary, ubiquitous materials – wallpaper, Styrofoam, insulation, and carpets – as an artist he clearly has roots in the Arte Povera legacy. He seeks to demystify the figure of the artist and the artistic process, by challenging the viewer to reconsider their preconceived notions about what constitutes a legitimate source of art through the very act of its origin and creation.

  • 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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Celotex insulation board, wood and aluminium, in two parts.
240 x 235 cm. (94 1/2 x 92 1/2 in).

Signed and dated ‘Stingel 2002’ on the reverse of each panel.

£400,000 - 600,000 Ω♠

Sold for £490,900

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

28 Feb 2008, 7pm