Rudolf Stingel (b. 1956)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL COLLECTION
Rudolf Stingel (b. 1956)

Untitled

Details
Rudolf Stingel (b. 1956)
Untitled
signed and dated 'Stingel 2011' (on the reverse)
oil on linen
25 ¾ x 20in. (65.5 x 50.8cm.)
Painted in 2011
Provenance
Gagosian Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2011.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
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Lot Essay

A triumph of photorealist trompe l’oeil, the present work stems from the series of self-portraits that – according to Francesco Bonami – mark ‘the apogee of Stingel’s work’. Painstakingly rendered in oil paint, it meticulously reproduces a black-and-white photograph of the artist as a young man, mimicking not only its image but also the creases and surface marks of the original object. Begun in 2005, and based on different source images over the years, Stingel’s self-portraits represent a grand culmination of the artist’s conceptual enquiries: namely, the way in which art is authored and received. Throughout his earlier abstract canvases, his hand had been deliberately absent, transferring a great deal of creative control to the viewer. In the self-portraits, Stingel finally reveals the maker, only to recast himself as an impossible illusion. While the ghosts of tradition hang heavy in the air – from Dürer and Rembrandt to Warhol and beyond – Stingel’s image is wholly impenetrable: uniform, smooth, devoid of gestural expression. Though posing as a window onto the soul, it is merely an index of a body that has since disappeared, like the footprints in his Styrofoam works or his graffitied Celotex walls. As Bonami explains, a shift occurs: ultimately, ‘the subject is not the artist himself, but the bipolar state of the subject of painting’ (F. Bonami, Rudolf Stingel, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2007, p. 20). The artist’s youthful likeness is thus less a revelation of the self than a conceptual device: a historically-charged vehicle through which to contemplate the nature of art-making.

Stingel came to prominence in the late 1980s, at a time when many had proclaimed painting dead. Following his abstract works, which denied all authorial input, his self-portraits offered a metaphor for progressive rejuvenation. In the first series, the artist presents himself in a state of melancholic decline, sprawled upon a bed in the manner of Mantegna’s Lamentation of Christ, smoking a cigarette or staring bleakly into a mirror. The second series, Untitled (Bolega), depicts Stingel in the throes of mid-life crisis, drowning his sorrows in front of a birthday cake. In the Alpino series, he reproduces his identification card from his time in military service – a self-portrait of a self-portrait. By the time of the present work, all external trappings are stripped away: the artist stares out of the canvas, radiant with youth. Time, seemingly, has reversed itself. At the same time, however, this tale of rehabilitation is held in tension with a pervasive sense of authorial doubt. Like Gerhard Richter before him – whose greyscale photo-paintings are a clear precedent – Stingel empties his works of romantic fiction, highlighting the constructed artifice of the image. On the other hand, he professes an almost vulnerable sense of self-exposure, claiming that he wanted ‘to go back to a more psychological platform … It also seemed to me to be the bravest thing I could do’ (R. Stingel, quoted at http://www.rbge.org.uk/the-gardens/edinburgh/ inverleith-house/archive/inverleith-house-archive-mainprogramme/ 2006/rudolf-stingel [accessed 25 January 2017]). Martyring his own likeness to the cause of painting, Stingel holds the conceptual and the personal in perilous tension, asking where we might go from here.

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