Paula Cooper Gallery, New York Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art; New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Rudolf Stingel, 2007, p. 103, illustrated in colour
Rudolf Stingel’s Untitled from 1996, is an outstanding example of the artist’s boundary defying scrutiny of the most traditional form of artistic expression – painting – a quest he continues to work on today. At the beginning of his career, Stingel published a limited edition book, Instructions, where, akin to a DIY handbook, he de-mystified the role of painter-as-creator by providing a detailed account of the process he followed to make his monochromatic canvases. In this book the artist democratized his work and willingly stripped himself of the solemnity attached to the medium by likening his paintings to commodities. His gesture can be seen as the continuation of a European current of inquiry and questioning of the medium that arose during the second half of the Twentieth Century; a tug-of-war in which artists not only challenged painting’s representational function, but also sought innovation by introducing materials seemingly extraneous to the medium, such as Yves Klein’s use of fire and female bodies as paintbrushes.
In his own exploration, Stingel has used industrial materials, carpet, or even Styrofoam to create what he has always considered as paintings. Although works vary in their making or in the materials used, all of his paintings nonetheless share a common factor; using industrial materials and a mechanical technique Stingel manages to convey spectacular painterly effects. The surface of Untitled seems to combine two of the most important artistic movements of the second half of the Twentieth Century. The photocopy-like appearance of the background invokes Pop and the use of appropriation and reproduction techniques in Andy Warhol’s canvases. On the other hand, the ice-blue coloured surface has been splashed over with black paint, brings to mind Jackson Pollock and his performative ‘Action Painting’. Untitled summarizes these artists’ reactions to classical painting in Stingel’s characteristically subversive manner; the painter used nothing else than the traditional oil on canvas to realize it.
As curator Francesco Bonami once put it, Stingel’s canvases "redefine what painting can be, what it has been, and what it is" (Francesco Bonami cited in Rudolf Stingel. Museum of Contemporary Art, Frieze, Issue 106, April 2007). Untitled is part of this very particular disregard for traditional mandates: simultaneously challenging our relationship with the medium and forging painterly objects of stunning aesthetic effect.
Colour: The catalogue illustration fails to convey the correct hue of the blue paint, the original tends more towards a turquoise-blue. Please refer to the department for more accurate images.
Condition: This work is in very good condition. There is some slight discoloration to the thicker areas of impasto consistent with the artist's choice of medium. No restoration is apparent under ultraviolet light.
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