Rudolf Stingel

Palazzo Grassi
07/04/2013 - 06/01/2014


Rudolf Stingel conceived this exhibition especially for Palazzo Grassi. Given the utmost freedom of execution, Stingel has completely transformed the museum, filling the entire space with an oriental carpet. Moving beyond the idea of two-dimensionality that is conventionally associated with painting, the exhibition aims to subvert the usual spatial relationship between a painting and viewer.

The carpet evokes the thousand-year history of Venice, the ‘Most Serene Republic’, but also recalls the Middle-European culture so loved by the artist; for example, we are reminded of Sigmund Freud’s early twentieth-century Viennese study. This reference undoubtedly provides a key to interpreting this installation: on entering the ‘labyrinth’, an all-encompassing feeling and sensorial experience transport us towards the transcendence of the Ego, by means of its removal and its ghosts. The nearly thirty paintings exhibited suggest presences that are ‘buried’ in memory, and removed experiences that thrive again. The architectural space becomes an introspective and projective space, silent and welcoming, suitable for meditation: but Stingel’s work alters our visual and spatial perception of it, suggesting a new, rarified and suspenseful atmosphere in which the silver, white and black of the paintings stands out like so many other ‘openings’ on Venice, in an another dimension.


Rudolf Stingel was born in Merano in 1956. He currently lives and works in New York.

Stingel’s entire artistic production revolves around the concept of painting, and the relationship between abstraction and figuration, pattern and texture, as well as the more profound existential questions of memory, time and vanitas. This focus translates itself into works on various supports and executed in different styles, in stylistic exercises ranging from hyperrealism to abstraction. With his work, Rudolf Stingel invites the viewer into a relationship that, more than visual, is also tactile, experiential, and introduces a participative dimension into the pictorial process. In 1989 he made Instructions, a precise instructions manual that explains how to create some of his abstract works. Home Depot (2004), a site-specific installation made for the Museum für Moderne Kunst (Frankfurt am Main), demanded a real contribution from visitors who were encouraged to walk on red and silver insulating panels, thus leaving their own mark.

From 1991, Stingel began making ‘carpets’ with which he often covers entire spaces, including walls: it is a non-painting that crosses the limit – also conceptual - of what a painting is, and becomes an environment. Even in his abstract paintings, when he abandons geometry and stylised elements and spreads out the paint on canvases in an ‘illogical’ way, it is possible to recognise shapes and patterns that have always characterized his work.

Apparently in contradiction with these works, Stingel also makes other paintings that avail themselves of photorealism: both portraits and self-portraits, on a large and very small scale.

Rudolf Stingel’s artistic production is prolific and varied but at the same time meticulous and generous.

His work was recently exhibited at Karma, New York (2015), Bass Museum of Art, Miami (2014), Inverleith House, Edinburgh (2014). Some of his works were recently shown at Palazzo Grassi in the exhibitions “The World Belongs to You” (2011-12), “Mapping the Studio” (2009-11), “Sequence 1” (2007) and “Where are We Going?” (2006).

Exhibition guide

Rudolf Stingel