Rudolf Stingel - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Sunday, June 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Video

    Rudolf Stingel: Texture as Disruption

    "Both the celotex and the carpet painting see Rudolf Sitngel challenging the definition of authorship..." With Untitled (Topolino), Stingel had the canvas completed entirely by viewers to the gallery where it was initially installed, leaving it up to them to inflict their marks on the work’s surface. Untitled, having been created with a stencil, recalls the serialisation and mechanized modes of creation that defined pop art, but stands in direct opposition to the work of the multiple skilled artisans who used to produce such lavish Baroque and Rococo designs. Specialist Henry Highley expands upon what makes these works such important benchmarks in Stingel’s career.

  • Provenance

    Massimo De Carlo, Milan
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Milan, Massimo De Carlo, Rudolf Stingel, 16 September-8 November 2014

  • Catalogue Essay

    Chrissie Iles: '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.' (Chrissie Iles, ‘Surface Tension’, in Exh. Cat., Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Rudolf Stingel, 2007, p. 23)

    Rudolf Stingel’s fascinating Untitled asserts itself as one of the latest examples of the artist’s eagerly sought-after series of carpet works and a shimmering exploration of space, pattern and texture. Almost immediately, one is immersed into the unpredictable and uncertain surface of the canvas, as delicate ornamentation melts into geometrically-guided repetition. Swirling imprints and lively vines dominate the ornate textile relief, pierced by small and unique deviations, leaving room for a sense of painterly accident. These deviations provide an indelible trace of their human craftsmanship. Amidst the brilliance of the magenta hue and iridescent silver, imprints of medallions and floral motifs emerge, evoking the Baroque tapestries that inspired Stingel. The intricate craftsmanship associated with both the Baroque and Rococo is something Stingel personally experienced and even undertook growing up in the Italian Tyrol and Vienna, where he attended a high school that provided training in Baroque decorative church wood carving. The materiality of such work left a deep impression on the young artist, conferring upon him a deep appreciation for the richness of decoration and the synthesis of both pictorial and architectural space.

    There is a certain form of decadence in this work, with its decorative opulence, that serves as a reminder of a bygone world. At first, it seems we are no longer restrained by contemporary functionalism and minimalism, as the artist allows superfluous ornamentation to triumph once again. The re-purposing of these works, a carpet inverted from floor to ceiling, reinforces this idea of decorative excess. Yet as always with Stingel’s work, a contradicting duality exists. Opposing the sheer visual luxury of the canvas is the very method within which it was produced: the stencil. By applying paint through a stencil, Stingel is participating in the serialisation and mechanized modes of creation that superseded the work of the multiple skilled artisans who used to produce such lavish Baroque and Rococo designs. The semi-automatic methods used to create this work engender a readymade-esque sense of repeatability in it, which is juxtaposed against the craftsmanship of the original damask pattern Stingel appropriated for the piece. These varying factors conflate to produce a work that is at once both democratic and decadent, an ode to the artistic and the industrial.

    As Roberta Smith writes, 'For nearly twenty years Rudolf Stingel has made work that seduces the eye whilst also upending most notions of what, exactly, constitutes a painting, how it should be made and by whom.' Stingel has experimented with the medium of carpets for much of his career, covering surfaces in the Palazzo Grassi, Grand Central Terminal and Whitney Museum of American art with uniquely textured fabrics. His carpets are a testament to their uses in both architecture and design, often being the only part of a space where visitors can tangibly interact. From silver celotex walls where viewers are invited to make their own mark on the surface to expanses of shag carpets that merge the surface and materiality of paint into one fused object, these installations are part of an ongoing examination into the pictorialisation of architectural features and their newly emerging plurality. By recontextualising the physical domain that a carpet usually inhabits, Stingel is forcing the viewer to question its significance in both literal and metaphorical space. Untitled is a continuation of these ideas, another means of dissolving the relationship between the painting, the architectural space of its exhibition and the expected parameters of painting as a whole.

  • 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 an Important European Collection



oil and enamel on canvas
241.5 x 193.5 cm (95 1/8 x 76 1/8 in.)
Signed and dated 'Stingel 2014' on the reverse.

£1,000,000 - 1,500,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £1,325,000

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 27 June 2016