Rudolf Stingel was born in 1956 in Merano, Italy. Stingel grew up and attended high school in Vienna, Austria before moving to New York in 1987. Working in a wide manner that defies easy categorization, Stingel is best known for his continued investigations into the fundamental questions concerning painting today, including authenticity, time, memory, and perception. Challenging the very notion of what constitutes a painting, Stingel’s work is distinguished by its ability to disrupt the viewer’s understanding and experience of an art object.
Stingel was first recognized in the late 1980s for his monochromatic, silvery paintings with undertones of red, yellow, and blue. In 1989, he completed his “Instructions,” a limited-edition manual that informed readers how to recreate one of these paintings, a challenge to the concept of authorship that Stingel has continued to revisit throughout his career.
Well-known for his interruptions of the space his work inhabits, Stingel first began experimenting with these interventions in 1991 when he installed a bright orange carpet at the Daniel Newberg Gallery in New York, leaving the walls blank. Through this act, Stingel asked viewers to consider the pictorial qualities of the architecture around them. Both carpet and the relationship between painting and space continued to play an important role in his work in the 1990s, when in 1994 he began a series of monochromatic works of shag carpet cast in rubber compound, bronze, aluminum, and polyurethane.
Over the years, audience participation has become crucial to Stingel’s practice. This participation most famously occurs through Stingel’s use of Celotex. First deployed in 2001 for a solo exhibition at the Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Trento, Italy, Stingel covered every available wall with metallic Celotex insultation board. Viewers were invited to participate by drawing and writing into the foam panels, creating intricately etched patterns which constantly evolved throughout the run of the exhibition. Effectively removing the importance of the individual mark of the artist, Stingel’s only involvement in the works came after the exhibition had closed, when he would divide sections of the Celotex and convert them into metal panels. This action was recreated again in 2003 at the Venice Biennale; in 2006 at the Palazzo Grassi, Venice; and in 2007 as part of his mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and the Whitney Museum of America Art, New York. By allowing his artworks to develop as public collaborations, Stingel not only dismantles the artistic process but returns to the questions of authorship initially broached in his “Instructions” manual.
Since 2005, Stingel has embarked on a series of photorealistic oil paintings of himself and others, including the art dealer Paula Cooper and the artist Pablo Picasso, based on photographs taken by other artists. Executed in a gray-scale palette to mimic the black-and-white photographic sources, these paintings are a meditation of age, time, and representation.
The artist’s work has been exhibited internationally at numerous institutions, including at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Museum für Modern Kunst, Frankfurt; and the Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Trento, Italy. His works are held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and The Art Institute of Chicago, among others.
Rudolf Stingel currently lives in New York and Merano, Italy.