Lot 27
  • 27

Rudolf Stingel

2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
4,006,250 USD
bidding is closed


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


Gagosian Gallery, Rome
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2010

Catalogue Note

Alluring and brilliant in its gilded luminosity, Rudolf Stingel’s Untitled from 2010 is a beguiling, deeply seductive example of the artist’s highly celebrated series of Carpet paintings. With a deadpan insistence on the materiality of the glistening gold surface, Stingel reformulates the underlying instability of Baroque richesse to create a profound new space between decadence and restraint. Melding both superfluous ornamentation and frivolity with a strict sense of geometrically guided repetition built through industrialized processes, Stingel’s nuanced references to the decorative styles of the Italian Baroque and French Rococo deftly contribute to his overarching concerns regarding the fusion of pictorial and architectural space. In the present work, the image of the carpet is repeated and fragmented across the canvas, evoking the mechanical process of screening; the painting foregrounds the commercial seriality central to Stingel’s critical stance on the industrialization of ornamentation and beauty. Deftly balancing the complex relationship between the intricate craftsmanship of the Art Nouveau and the readymade repeatability of a stencil, Untitled embraces desire while pulling back the curtain to expose the very process of its own manufacture.

Stingel has long been fascinated by the conceptual and painterly portent of carpet. It first appeared in his oeuvre in the form of a bright orange rug installed on the floor in his show at the Daniel Newburg Gallery, New York, in 1991, and on the wall in the 1993 Venice Biennale as part of the Aperto ’93 exhibit. Since then this conceptual engagement has developed into all-consuming installations in the Vanderbilt Hall of Grand Central Station in 2004 and the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 2010, for which he blanketed the entire floor of these locations in highly patterned carpet. In alignment with Stingel’s approach to painting (works are frequently walked upon without hesitation), these installations encouraged the viewer to touch and trample over their surfaces, thus initiating an element of destructive participation that bears the footprint of time’s passage. Most recently, Stingel’s critically lauded 2013 retrospective at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice imparted the very apogee of this intriguing dialogue, consuming the floor, wall, and ceiling of the palazzo’s grand rooms with an image of a threadbare Persian rug printed onto an enormous roll of carpet.

Ever since the rise of the Serenissima and the influence of foreign embassies in Venice, the Orientialist rug has amassed a rich history across the story of Western art; from being featured as a backdrop in early Renaissance panels through to Vermeer and Matisse, the carpet has recurred as a painterly device to both define and destabilize notions of space and structure within the image. Stingel harnesses this canonical art historical trope and pushes the limit even further: not only has he incorporated textile into his painterly method and made carpet the subject of his paintings, he has also invited carpet itself into the painterly realm. Untitled extends Stingel’s pioneering industrialized process first codified by his influential Instructions by providing an imprint or trace of a predetermined referent, namely the decorative art found in his native Tyrol and Vienna. Stingel conceptually outsources authorship to a visual mode that evokes the extravagance of Rococo, Baroque, and Belle Époque designs, which were once harnessed to create luxurious damask wallpapers, carpets, and iron window guards with cut velvet floral forms. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the Nineteenth Century and the development of sophisticated production technologies, what was once the product of multiple skilled artisans working arduously for months became a day’s work for a single machine. Stripped of the saturated color and pattern intrinsic to Oriental rugs, these paintings are elegiac ghostlike renditions that invoke the realm of memory and nostalgia. As redolent within the golden skeins and threadbare grandeur of the present work, Stingel presents Orientalist magnificence that is tatty, worn, and old; stained and scratched, this delicate image bore the brunt of the artist’s aggressive working process. The trace of human presence, both the artist’s own and those captured on the surface of the original rug itself, is marked in the phantom mirage of a former opulence.