Rudolf Stingel




Stingel became first recognised in the late 1980s for his monochromatic works, silvery paintings with undertones of red, yellow or blue from 1987 to 1994. Stingel’s later abstract paintings from the 1990s consist of oils in pure, brilliant colors exuberantly splayed, dripped, pressed, and pulled across a black field.[5] The works begin with the application of a thick layer of paint in a particular colour to the canvas. Pieces of gauze are then placed over the surface of the canvas and silver paint is added using a spray gun. Finally, the gauze is removed, resulting in a richly textured surface.[6] For his works on paper Stingel is known for a technique of applying oil paint and/or enamelonto canvas or paper through a tulle screen.[7] At the Venice Biennale in 1989, he published an illustrated “do-it-yourself” manual in English, Italian, German, French, Spanish and Japanese, 'Instructions, Istruzioni, Anleitung...', outlining the equipment and procedure that would enable anyone to create one of his paintings.[8] In so doing, he suggests that everyone could produce a work of abstraction by following a simple set of instructions.

In the early 1990s Stingel created a series of radiator sculptures made of translucent cast resin in which orange acrylic paint was poured during the casting process. Installed like ordinary radiators, the works nevertheless disallow their identification to a purely utilitarian object through their marbled ember-like glow.[9]

Also in the early 1990s, Stingel started his inquiry into the relationship between painting and space by developing a series of installations that covered the walls and floors of exhibition spaces with monochrome or black and white carpets, transforming the architecture into a painting.[10] In 1993, he exhibited a huge plush orange carpet glued to the wall at the Venice Biennale.[11] In his site-specific Plan B (2004), he covered the entire floors of Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall and the Walker Art Center with an industrially-printed pink and blue floral carpet.[12] Simultaneously in Frankfurt am Main, Stingel completely resurfaced one of the rooms of the Museum für Moderne Kunst – walls, columns and floor – with bright red and silver insulation panels printed with a traditional damask wallpaper motif.[11] During the 2013 Venice Biennale, he covered the Palazzo Grassi with his own Persian-inspired carpeting on which he hung his abstract and Photo Realist paintings.[13]

In other installations, he covered the walls with silver metallic Celotex insulation board and invited visitors to mark them as they wished: at the 2003 Venice Biennale Stingel created a silver room inside the Italian pavilion.[14] As part of his 2007 mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the artist covered the gallery walls with metallic Celotex insulation board[12] and invited visitors to draw, write and make imprints on the surface of the softly reflective silver panelling, effectively removing artistic privilege from the mark of the individual and handing it over to the collective gestures of thousands of viewers.[15] His paintings from that period are often are created through a performative process in which Stingel covers the entire floor of his studio with Styrofoam and then walks across the thick surface in boots dipped in lacquer thinner. The Styrofoam melts with each of Stingel’s steps leaving behind only the markings of a footprint. The final work is then arranged in single, double or as in this case a monumentous four panels taken from the much larger field of panels that covered the entire studio floor.[16]


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