Lot 19
  • 19

Rudolf Stingel

3,000,000 - 5,000,000 USD
2,517,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Rudolf Stingel
  • Untitled
  • signed and dated 2010 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas


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


New York, Gagosian Gallery, Rudolf Stingel, March - April 2011, pp. 15 and 72, illustrated in color, pp. 12-13, illustrated in color (detail) and illustrated in color on the back cover

Catalogue Note

Epic in scale and conveying a sense of monumental grandeur, Untitled forms part of Rudolf Stingel’s astonishing corpus of mature self-portraits, described by Francesco Bonami as “the apogee of Stingel’s work.” (Francesco Bonami, ‘Paintings of Paintings for Paintings, The Kairology and Kronology of Rudolf Stingel’ in Exh. Cat., Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art (and travelling), Rudolf Stingel, 2007, p. 20) Exhibiting Stingel’s exquisite painterly technique, Untitled reproduces, with near photographic precision, an image of the artist as a young man, composed of an elegantly grisaille palette. The youthful Stingel gazes out towards the viewer with powerful intensity, a sombre slant to his mouth, as though caught in the midst of a deep reverie. Stingel expertly conveys an atmosphere of melancholic introspection within Untitled, with the artist’s younger self seemingly wrapped in his own solitary world of brooding contemplation.

The hues of gray and black that shade delicately into each other within the paint surface recall the color tones of Gerhard Richter’s Photo-paintings, yet Stingel’s remarkable precision of technique eschews artistic blurring in favor of a more immediate, unimpeded, painterly dialectic. Gary Carrion-Murayari has analyzed the key influence of photography on the series of self-portraits and the ways in which Stingel has surpassed the possibilities of the medium: “In his self-portraits, Stingel has internalized the challenge photography initially proposed to painting when the technology became widely available in the 19th century. This challenge was a strong impetus in the development of Modernist painting, one that Stingel addresses in much of his work. Stingel moves beyond photography by adding a temporal element…” (Gary Carrion-Murayari, Ibid., p. 111) This concept of a ‘temporal element’ is particularly apposite in the case of Untitled, in which Stingel arguably questions the veracity of self-portraiture as a genre through the use of a much younger image as a model: rather than a reflection of Stingel’s contemporary appearance, Untitled locks the artist into a form of eternally re-generating, perpetual youth.

Stingel commenced his series of self-portraits in 2005, following a career devoted to challenging and transcending the traditional language of painting. There is an inherent sense of wit and irony underlying Stingel’s entire oeuvre: in 1989 the artist published a treatise in which he outlined the methods used to create his distinctive early ‘patterned’ works, theoretically enabling the population at large to make their own ‘version’ of his masterpieces. Within the series of self-portraits, Stingel’s technical brilliance reaches its apex, displaying the artist’s extraordinary ability to suggest mood and atmosphere through his truly remarkable stylistic assurance and painterly virtuosity. However, Bonami argues that the self-portraits are inextricably connected to Stingel’s earlier works: “To look at these self-portraits as a departure from Stingel’s earlier work is a mistake. This new work is one of the many parallel paths of his continuation of the autobiography of painting. The early silver paintings and the recent self-portraits are the two poles of the bi-polar nature of the artist and the bi-polar nature of painting, torn between the limitless sublime and suffocating boundaries of the mundane.” (Francesco Bonami in Op. Cit, p. 20) Ultimately Untitled is a work of immense power and commanding authority which effectively reconciles the various creative and philosophical facets of Stingel’s career into a highly assured and eloquently expressive composite whole.