Rudolf Stingel - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2009

  • Catalogue Essay

    Over the last four decades, Rudolf Stingel’s oeuvre has explored intricate textures and the notion of artistic authorship through his experimentation with textiles, metals, oil paint and stencils. By paying close attention to the symbiotic relationship between viewing and making, the artist has consistently pushed the boundaries of what constitutes a painting and how we perceive and interact with art. Through his use of abstraction and his playful and inventive exploration of artistic process, Stingel has developed a unique visual language by interrogating the perceived authority of painting as a medium. Stingel’s distinct body of work culminates and coalesces in the artist’s celebrated Carpet Paintings.

    Untitled, executed in 2009, is an exquisite example of Stingel’s fastidious attention to detail and exploration of surface quality. Utilising reproductions of traditional patterns, Stingel’s adaptation of ornamental design creates a nostalgic and time‐worn effect. Exploring themes of artistic quotation, the resulting composition echoes nostalgic floral patterns, the opulent grey‐silver lustre lending the work a sense of enchantment. Transporting pattern to the forefront of his work, Stingel draws inspiration from the rich history of decorative arts and architecture, celebrating the achievements of artisanal craftsmanship. Seeking to free painting from the confines of the canvas, in the present work Stingel abstracts and isolates a small section of the pattern, decontextualizing the work through his painterly presentation. As Francesco Bonami notes: ‘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, quoted in Rudolf Stingel, Gagosian, New York, 2010, p. 7).

    Abstract in composition, yet sumptuously painterly on closer look, Untitled draws attention to the hand of the artist through scrupulous details. Throughout his practice Stingel has returned to the notion of questioning authorship, often removing the artist from the dynamic act of creation. A recurring motif in his practice is to cover an exhibition space with unlikely materials, such as his current installation Untitled, 1993, currently on view at the Tate Modern. This work features a 1.5 cm thick orange carpet, mounted to the wall for visitors to mould and sculpt the surface, often resulting in broad, sweeping lines that paradoxically resemble painterly brushstrokes. Another such example of his malleable and interactive practice is his use of aluminium silver sheets that he invites his viewer to mark and daub. Such interventions create a mediated and immersive space; Stingel’s site-specific installations seek to move beyond the ‘flatness’ of the painted surface, a flatness that is explored and deliberately exacerbated in works such as Untitled. Each of these approaches also serve to demonstrate the significance of the passage of time in his work, clearly showcases process as a collaborative and dynamic experience, encapsulated in the exquisite surface of Untitled.

  • 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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Property from a Distinguished European Collection



signed and dated 'Stingel 2009' on the reverse
oil on canvas
76.5 x 61.2 cm (30 1/8 x 24 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2009.

£250,000 - 350,000 ‡♠

Sold for £350,000

Contact Specialist
Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 8 March 2019