- Rudolf Stingel
- electroformed copper, plated nickel and gold
- 120 by 100.3 cm; 47¼ by 39½ in.
Acquired by the present owner from the above
Since the beginning of his career, Rudolf Stingel has sought to push the traditional limitations of painting. In 1989 the artist published Instructions, a booklet outlining each step needed to create his silver paintings, effectively allowing anyone to make their own silver painting and to negate the idea of artistic originality. Untitled (Lot 606) is from another body of work that likewise challenges traditional ideas of artistic authorship.
In 2007, following the spirit of Instructions, Stingel installed reflective silver celotex panels on the walls of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago during his mid-career retrospective at both institutions. Visitors were invited to carve whatever they desired onto the panels, effectively reversing centuries-old concepts of proper museum viewership and etiquette. Stingel then selected a number of these panels and cast them in copper and had them electroplated with gold, resulting in a series of works such as Untitled.
The process behind the creation of Untitled not only references a new perspective of what painting can be, but also explores the way that painting relates to time. Firstly, the marks that were made on the celotex panels are linked to a specific moment when an individual interacted with the pieces in 2007. Once the celotex panels were removed from the museums, they represented an accumulation of specific moments. Conversely, the casting process was relatively immediate, capturing all of the markings, signifiers of different moments, into an overall composition.
Curator Fancesco Bonami writes of the conflicting durations that exist in Stingel’s work: “The Greeks wrote of two kinds of time, kairos, the propitious moment, and kronos, ongoing or eternal time. If kairos is an exact moment in time, then figuration addresses kairos, the moment, the 100-meter race of time. Everything is constrained within a moment, and the viewer is gifted, for a moment, to look with the awareness of the present or with the illusion of being inside the present. If kronos is the time of wisdom, then abstraction addresses kronos, the long-distance running time. It doesn’t cease but becomes still and allows the image to flow unceasingly into abstraction.”1
Each marking is figurative in the sense that they are mostly stick figures, words, phrases and initials. In Untitled, messages of love and peace appear throughout–from images of hearts and peace signs, to messages in a variety of languages. At the lower edge, in beautiful handwriting is the phrase “love is forever”. Once these distinct legible markers of kairos accumulate and the panel is cast as a unified composition, the panel becomes an overall abstract composition with all of these moments compressed into a single framework. While on the wall, the celotex panels could always be added to, but as a cast copper object, these moments are now frozen. However, Stingel complicates this by gold plating the copper, creating a reflective surface that constantly shifts as it captures whatever or whoever surrounds it, including the reflections of those who photograph these works and circulate the images on their social media, effectively continuing to amplify and reproduce the accumulated kairos.
Through its physical reflectivity and genesis through the copying of the images created by others, the present lot speaks to the global circulation of images and information that is at the heart of our culture. By transferring images that were created in Chicago and New York onto panels that were then shown at Gagosian Gallery, Hong Kong, Stingel enacts the very global circulation that we all participate in. We each photograph the people and things around us in an instant and send them into an ever expanding cloud of information, an abstract amalgamation of legible moments.
 Francesco Bonami, 'Paintings of Paintings for Paintings: The Kairology and Kronology of Rudolf Stingel' in: Francesco Bonami, ed., Rudolf Stingel, New Haven and London 2007, p. 13
Rudolf Stingel (b. 1956, Italy) gained recognition in the 1980s with highly conceptual paintings and installations that encouraged viewer interaction and pushed the boundaries of traditional ideas of painting. Stingel challenges traditional ideas of context, legitimacy, and significance by regularly integrating and repurposing familiar objects and imagery. Stingel’s work has been exhibited in several solo and group exhibitions, including shows at Kunsthalle, Zurich (1995), Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Palazzo delle Arbere, Italy (2001), Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2004), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2004), EURAC Tower, Italy (2005), Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2006), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2007), and Neue National Galerie, Berlin (2010). Stingel’s work is held in the collections of institutions such as the De La Cruz Collection, Miami, Museum of Modern Art, New York, among others.