Rudolf Stingel - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 20, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Overview

    With its colossal, shimmering surface emanating purple and silver hues, Untitled is an exquisite example of Rudolf Stingel’s abstract works – specifically his carpet installations and wallpaper paintings, which utilise familiar, decorative patterns to blend into their surroundings. Looming before the viewer like a fragment of a mural, fresco or wallpaper, Untitled combines the graphic power of its declarative colours, and the inconspicuous demeanour of its domestic likeness. Created by spraying paint and enamel onto canvas with meticulously positioned stencils, the composition demonstrates Stingel’s experimental approach to the medium, which he continually cultivated throughout his career, reaching its apotheosis with his celebrated series of Carpet Paintings. Deftly balanced between visual indulgence and critical commentary on image-making, the artist’s paintings from this period, as well as his subsequent gilded and ornamented formulations, work in the legacy of Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg. Executed in 2011, the composition thematically presages one of Stingel's most prodigious and ambitious projects: his 2013 solo presentation at the Palazzo Grassi, Venice, wherein he lined most of the palazzo's spaces — the vast atrium and the two floors of enfiladed galleries overlooking it — with synthetic carpet boasting the repeated, enlarged facsimile of an Ottoman carpet.

    'For nearly 20 years [Stingel] has made work that seduces the eye while also upending most notions of what, exactly, constitutes a painting, how it should be made and by whom … He combines a love of painting with the postmodern suspicion of it.' —Roberta Smith

    Over the last four decades, Stingel has forged a unique visual language that evidences the symbiotic relationship between viewing and making. Perpetually interrogating the artistic process through a shrewd experimentation with textiles, metals, oil paint and stencils, the artist has offered a novel understanding of artistic authorship in postmodern times. Situated at the threshold of painterly craft and the conceptual readymade, the artist’s Carpet Paintings posit as the culmination of his artistic investigation – the apex of his imaginative and creative powers.


    Installation view of Rudolf Stingel’s exhibition at Palazzo Grassi, 5 April – 31 December 2013. Photo: Barbara Zanon/Getty Images.
    Installation view of Rudolf Stingel’s exhibition at Palazzo Grassi, 5 April – 31 December 2013. Photo: Barbara Zanon/Getty Images.

    ‘A Carpet is a Painting, A Painting is a Carpet’


    Stingel’s vast carpet installations, most famously installed in Grand Central Terminal under the facetious name ‘Plan B’ in 2004, have become powerful visual symbols for his playful and inventive oeuvre. Echoing these large-scale, site-specific exercises, Stingel’s similarly themed paintings equally engage the viewer’s sense of awareness in relation to spatial environment. Rising high above the viewer’s eye, Untitled exemplifies the artist's ability to remain fastidiously attentive to detail and surface quality, whilst simultaneously combining graphic impact and physical grandeur. Utilising reproductions of traditional patterns, the artist infers a nostalgic and time‐worn effect that is immediately tied to the aesthetic attached to ornamental rugs. Transporting pattern to the forefront of his work, the artist draws inspiration from the rich history of decorative arts and architecture, celebrating the achievements of artisanal craftsmanship – a knowledge and fascination that can be traced back to his upbringing in the Italian Tyrol and Vienna, where he was exposed to a fusion of Baroque and Rococo aesthetics at an early age. 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’.i   


    Hans Memling, Fleurs dans un vase (Flowers in a Jug), c. 1485, oil on wood, Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid. Image: Bridgeman Images.
    Hans Memling, Fleurs dans un vase (Flowers in a Jug), c. 1485, oil on wood, Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Madrid. Image: Bridgeman Images.

    i Francesco Bonami, quoted in Rudolf Stingel, exh. cat., Gagosian, New York, 2010, p. 7.


    • Provenance

      Gagosian Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • 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.

      View More Works

Property from a Private American Collection



signed and dated 'Stingel 2011' on the reverse
oil and enamel on linen
241.7 x 193.2 cm (95 1/8 x 76 1/8 in.)
Executed in 2011.

Full Cataloguing

£800,000 - 1,200,000 ‡♠

Sold for £990,500

Contact Specialist

Kate Bryan
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+44 20 7318 4026

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 20 October 2020