To create Untitled (Studio Floor) (2009), Italian-born artist Rudolf Stingel (b.1956) covered parts of his studio floor with different gold-primed canvases. The artist chose one of these canvases to cut up into smaller square-sized paintings to create this unique series.
Untitled (Studio Floor) was covered with metallic enamel paint and laid upon Stingel’s studio floor, thereby exposing it to his day-to-day studio endeavors. The original painting chosen for the New Museum is to be re-created at the Armory Fair 2009, almost as is if Stingel’s studio floor had been flipped up on the wall, broken into pieces, and reassembled into a grid, revealing each stage of its journey. The use of the studio floor to create work, and an avid consideration of the architecture in which his work is presented, has been a consistent theme for the artist. It can be seen in works such as his white Styrofoam paintings of 2002 or white paint-splattered carpet, both exhibited in Stingel’s recent “Retrospective” (curated by Francesco Bonami) at the MCA Chicago, and which traveled to the Whitney Museum (both 2007).
Over time, Untitled (Studio Floor) became laden with different meanings, as pieces of dirt, paint, and other daily studio materials were embedded in its minimal, formal surface. For example, one can see the remnants of paintings that were created on the studio’s wall (on exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery), as well as evidence of the artist’s physical body: scuffed shoe markings and cigarette stubs. These markers of time are captured within iridescent layers of metallic paint—hovering in the realm of the sublime. Bricks (that once lay underneath the canvas) create a Minimalist repetition of rectangles across the ravaged dirty, tarnished gold surface, and impressions of a chain-link fence struggle with utmost futility to contain the painting’s sensual beauty in what appears to be an almost self protective gesture. Worn and astoundingly beautiful, Untitled (Studio Floor) strains to explode within the confines of the canvas. Stingel has released a layer of this inherent tension and broken the canvas into thirty pieces to form relics of a lived past, to be carried away by individual collectors, and possibly never to be reassembled. It is both the artist’s generous and loving gift, and also a remarkably violent gesture. The paintings poignantly question methods for survival within the demands of an art market, and how one can convey meaning within the limited parameters of an art fair. In an age when art production has been growing ever larger in its scope and complexity, Stingel uses an economy of means and materials to magnificent effect, as revealed in the true genius of Untitled (Studio Floor); the paintings sumptuous painterly surfaces, while evocative and historic, are also immediately present. Turning Minimalism on its head, the paintings embrace layers of meaning, and continually draw in the viewer with their undeniable beauty and allure.
Rudolf Stingel’s work has been exhibited in prominent exhibitions both nationally and internationally. He currently has a solo exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Most recently, it was the subject of “Rudolf Stingel: Paintings 1987-2007,” a midcareer retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. In 2004, the artist installed “Plan B,” an industrially printed pink-and-blue floral carpet covering the entire floor of Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall. Previous museum shows have included one-person exhibitions at the Museo d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Trento, Italy, (2001) and the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2004). Stingel participated in the 2008 Carnegie International, the 2006 Whitney Biennial, and in exhibitions at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Abroad, his work was included in the 1999 and 2003 Venice Biennales; Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art, Malmö, Sweden; and in “Sequence 1” at the Palazzo Grassi, Venice. Stingel lives and works in New York City and Italy.
Untitled (Studio Floor), 2009
Oil and enamel on canvas
23 ¾ x 23 ¾ in (60.3 × 60.3 cm)
Series of thirty unique paintings
Published by Lisa Ivorian-Jones for the New Museum