Lot 35
  • 35


1,400,000 - 1,800,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Rudolf Stingel
  • Untitled
  • signed and dated 2007 on the reverse
  • oil and enamel on canvas 
  • 241.3 by 193 cm. 95 by 76 in.


Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist) 
Gagosian Gallery, New York 
Acquired from the above by the present owner 


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the illustration fails to fully convey the metallic nature of the gold paint. Condition: Please refer to the department for a professional department.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

“For nearly twenty years Rudolf Stingel has made work that seduces the eye whilst also upending most notions of what, exactly, constitutes a painting, how it should be made and by whom.”
Roberta Smith, ‘Making Their Mark’, The New York Times, 13 October 2007, online. Glistening with a façade of golden opulence, Rudolf Stingel’s monumental Untitled envelopes the viewer in a translucent and transcendent aura. Executed in 2007, the work comes from the artist’s celebrated series of wallpaper paintings. Shifting and slipping between object and artwork, illusion and allusion, the works in this series playfully and provocatively blur the line between traditional painting and the readymade. As noted by Chrissie Iles, curator of Stingel’s renowned 2007 retrospective at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York: “In Rudolf Stingel’s work, the parameters of painting and architecture are turned inside out. The traditional qualities of painting… pictorialism, flatness, illusion, composition, and autonomy… become corrupted by a new symbolic framework in which painting metamorphoses” (Chrissie Iles, ‘Surface Tension’ in: Exh. Cat., Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Rudolf Stingel, 2007, p. 23). Stingel's work was the subject of a major show last year at the Fondation Beyeler, Basel, testifying to the importance of the artist’s influential and innovative practice. 

One of the most striking expressions of Stingel’s highly coveted series, the present work contends with some of the major themes addressed throughout the artist’s diverse and interrogative practice of image-making. Oscillating between the faculties of abstraction and figuration, Stingel’s multifarious oeuvre employs a host of processes, textures and materials in order to question the principle issues facing contemporary painting today; amongst them, concerns regarding high art versus low and the contested role of artist as producer. By innovatively engaging with these questions in Untitled, Stingel simultaneously demystifies and intensifies the mystic allure enshrouding his art. Melding ornamentation with a strict sense of geometrically guided repetition, Untitled is an attractive testimony to the artist’s profound expansion of the definition of painting. Upon entering the New York art scene in 1987, Stingel eschewed the dominant reactionary minimalist and neo-expressionist tendencies, pioneering a process-oriented approach to painting through the initiation of his now-iconic silver monochromes. In 1989, the artist released his seminal Instructions: a limited-edition art book that outlined the step-by-step method by which his idiosyncratic enamel works could be replicated. Codifying his technique with a democratic release into the public sphere, Stingel’s critique at once exposed his studio processes and subverted notions of authorial genius in favour of a sense of industrial manufacture and mechanised labour akin to Andy Warhol’s practice. Created by applying paint through a fine and detailed stencil, Untitled extends Stingel’s pioneering industrialised processes and rigorously critical approach to painting. By outsourcing the authorship of his work, Stingel pertinently emulates some of the homogenised features and processes of the very technology which has been threatening the genre of painting since the mid-Twentieth Century.   

With a deadpan insistence on the materiality and abstract presence of surface, the trajectory of Stingel’s painting, from the silver works to the opulent gold of the present composition, recalls the deeply intricate paintings of Gustav Klimt or the lavish gold leaf monochromes of Yves Klein. The formal beauty of Untitled further represents a turning point in the artist’s prolific career, in which Stingel embraced decoration, texture and tactility to create a heightened sensorial environment in the exhibition space, and in so doing destabilised the accepted hierarchy between a work and its context. Engaging with notions of authorship and originality, Untitled encapsulates Stingel’s artistic investigations in a radiantly ornate, meticulously executed, and profoundly mesmeric canvas. In the words of the eminent curator Francesco Bonami: “by disrupting painting’s assumption of material, process, and placement, Stingel not only bursts open the conventions of painting, but creates unique ways of thinking about the medium and its reception” (Francesco Bonami, ibid., p. 10).