3 More
Property from a Distinguished Private Collection


electroformed copper, plated nickel and plated gold
33 x 47 ¼ in. (83.8 x 120 cm.)
Executed in 2012.
Gagosian Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2013

Brought to you by

Allison Immergut
Allison Immergut Associate Vice President, Specialist, Co-Head of Day Sale

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

The Italian artist Rudolf Stingel is a master at challenging conventional methods of creation. Executed in 2012, Untitled is a striking example of his radical approach to art, democratizing the creative process in blatent disregard for centuries of artistic tradition. In this monuemtal work, Stingel employs industrial materials as his medium, and members of the public as his tools, resulting in a gleaming monument to postmodernism. With works such as this, Stingel has sought to strike a balance between conceptual rigor and the retinal sensuality of painting.

In 2007, Stingel opened his landmark exhibition, Rudolf Stingel, which debuted at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and then traveled to New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art. In each exhibition space, Stingel covered the walls in a reflective insulation material. The upper portion of the paneling, which spanned almost 100 square inches, was inscribed by the artist with various graffiti-like marks, but left untouched in the lower portion. Viewers were then invited to press, inscribe, and imprint on the surface, leaving their own mark on the artist’s work. In this way, Stingel invited the audience to join him in the creative process and allows the participatory nature of the exhibition to render the work essentially authorless and devoid of a single, defining voice, while also blurring the lines between the boundaries between art and experience.

Central to Stingel’s oeuvre, the exhibition allowed the environment to change continually, thus capturing and distorting the passage of time: “the piece triggered a chain reaction, with the walls accumulating souvenirs, diary entries, messages of love, and found objects” (‘The People's Painting: How to Understand Rudolf Stingel's Crowdsourced Magnum Opus,’ Artspace, January 21, 2016). The present work holds the eternal messages of Stingel’s audience, such as “I heart Trevor” and “Jesus is Lord,” carved into its surface, the interplay between art and time underscoring the artist’s fascination with the ephemeral nature of art and the temporal quality of human existence. With this work, Stingel has suddenly flipped the script, immortalizing an exhibition and artwork that was understood to be inherently temporary in nature. Indeed, Untitled is not only a memorial of a specific space and time, but simultaneously a permanent, tangible work of art in its own right.

Beyond being a purely conceptual work, Untitled envelopes the viewer with its enticing, glistening surface. Upon closer review however, the viewer will come to find that Untitled is quite nuanced, with a plethora of drawings and designs etched into the exterior. From admiration to acclimations, imprinted on Untitled are the convoluted and complex details of Stingel’s audience. Forever present, these robust inscriptions are reminders of the inevitability and relentless nature of the passage of time. While everything surrounding Untitled is fleeting, Stingel’s work allows history to remain permanent. This, coupled with the golden surface allows Untitled to glisten even under the shadowy of lights.

Gold holds a unique significance in art history, symbolizing wealth, power, and the divine. From ancient civilizations to the Renaissance and beyond, artists utilized gold to adorn religious icons, manuscripts, and monumental artworks. The shimmering brilliance of gold not only added a material opulence but also conveyed a spiritual transcendence, with gold often representing the divine light. The meticulous application of gold pigment in illuminated manuscripts or the gilded surfaces of religious paintings conveyed a sense of reverence and awe. Gold’s role in art history goes beyond mere aesthetics; it is a testament to humanity’s enduring fascination with the previous metal and its ability to elevate art to a realm that transcends the earthly.

Since the artist came to prominence in the 1980s, Stingel has consistently challenged the traditional boundaries of art and the nature of artistic creation, and Untitled is no exception. The work showcases his understanding of contemporary art, one where boundaries between artist and audience are increasingly fluid, and creativity becomes a unique, shared experience. In addition to the partnership between Stingel and his audience, in Untitled, the artist’s relationship to the persistence of time is literally etched into the surface.

More from Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Sale

View All
View All