RUDOLF STINGEL / PALAZZO GRASSI 2013 / VENICE
     
RUDOLF STINGEL / PALAZZO GRASSI 2013 / VENICE
The programming of Palazzo Grassi - François Pinault Foundation follows the principle of an alternation between thematic group exhibitions devoted to the works of the Pinault Collection and solo exhibitions by major contemporary artists.
In this context, François Pinault decided to invite Rudolf Stingel to devise, in absolute freedom, an exhibition involving the totality of the spaces at Palazzo Grassi for the first time.
This freedom, giving the artist carte blanche, testifies to the continuity of the close bond between the artist and Palazzo Grassi - Punta della Dogana - François Pinault Foundation, ever since the origins of the institution.
Since the opening of Palazzo Grassi in 2006, Rudolf Stingel has been present in all the exhibitions of the collection, always in particularly significant ways: for Where Are We Going? with the great room lined with Celotex, a silvered material in which the traces of the passing of the visitors were imprinted during the course of the exhibition; for Sequence 1, in 2007, with a substantial body of work including the huge carpet in shades of gray in the atrium and the monumental work created in collaboration with Franz West in Campo San Samuele; for Mapping the Studio, in 2009, he was the first artist to be
hosted in the “Cube” designed by Tadao Ando at Punta della Dogana, the geographic and symbolic heart of the building; for The World Belongs to You, in 2011, with three large gold paintings that reflected the infinite variations of light on the Grand Canal...
Conceived by the artist with the valuable and meticulous collaboration of Elena Geuna, the exhibition Rudolf Stingel presents over thirty paintings from international collections, including those of the artist and of François Pinault, forming a corpus that itself becomes a masterly work.
I wish to thank the lenders of artworks who have made this exhibition possible with their helpfulness and all those who have contributed to its creation.
Rudolf Stingel will remain open during the 55th Venice Biennale of contemporary art and the exhibition Prima materia, curated by Caroline Bourgeois and Michael Govan, will open at Punta
della Dogana on May 30, 2013. The Teatrino, an auditorium conceived to host the intense cultural programme of Palazzo Grassi (screenings, conferences, concerts…) will also be inaugurated on the same day. François Pinault commissioned Tadao Ando for the architectural project.
Martin Bethenod Chief Executive and Director of Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana3

The exhibition Rudolf Stingel
The exhibition Rudolf Stingel unfolds over the atrium and both upper floors of Palazzo Grassi, a space of over 5,000 square meters. For the first time, Palazzo Grassi will devote the entirety of its space to the work of a single artist. It includes a site-specific installation as well as recent creations and
previously unseen paintings. This will be Stingel’s largest ever monographic presentation in Europe and his first solo exhibition in an Italian museum since his mid-career retrospective at MART in 2001.
The project, conceived by the artist expressly for Palazzo Grassi, spreads over all the rooms of the building, where a carpet with oriental patterns covers, for the first time, the entire surface of the walls and floors.
The installation is part of Stingel’s artistic research, which has always been directed towards the analysis of the relationship between the exhibition space and artistic intervention: for the artist, the carpet is a medium through which painting relates to its architectural context. Interested in the redefinition of the meaning of “painting” and of its perception, Stingel places the “carpet” at the core of his poetics. It bears witness to the passage of time and people and is also a source of inspiration,
with its variety of typologies and textures, for successive series of paintings.
The exhibition presents a selection of over thirty paintings from collections around the world, including the artist’s collection and that of François Pinault. The first floor hosts a group of abstract
paintings, some of which were created in the studios of Merano and New York specifically for this project, offering an interpretation of the historical, architectural and artistic context of Venice. The pattern of the carpet, while bringing to mind the city’s past, merges with a unique environment, the image of Sigmund Freud’s study in Vienna, characterized by different oriental carpets laid on floors, walls, sofa and table. The reference to the Middle-European culture, significant in Stingel’s training, is also a tribute to his friend Franz West, whose magnificent portrait features in this show.
In this sense, the exhibition becomes an inner journey, which starts from the glow of the silver of the abstract paintings on the first floor, and continues with the black and white “portraits of sculptures” on the second floor. Centered on the relationship between abstraction and figuration, the exhibition displays the constant fluidity between these two polarities, and how they characterize the artist’s poetics. It also invites visitors to ponder the idea of “portrait” itself and the concept of “appropriation”
of images. The upper floor hosts a selection of paintings that represent religious wooden antic sculptures, created using the painting technique of photo-realism, inspired by black and white
photographs and illustrations.

Venice, the moon and the unconscious Hosting Rudolf Stingel’s solo exhibition, conceived by the artist expressly for Palazzo Grassi, the architectonic space of the beautiful Venetian building—more than 5000 square meters, including the atrium, the first and second floors—testifies to one of the most moving moments in its long and extraordinary cultural and artistic history.
One could recall the period when Palazzo Grassi, at the time the seat of the International Centre of Arts and Costume created by Franco Marinotti, became the scene of a visionary artistic project
promoted by his son, Paolo. By supporting the arts and transforming Palazzo Grassi into a “House of the Arts”
in the full meaning of the term, between 1959 and 1967, Paolo Marinotti established a long tradition of patronage and a virtuous model of “enlightened” entrepreneurial activity. In particular, he
launched the first exhibition cycle of contemporary art,organized in three exhibitions, Vitalità nell’arte(Vitality in Art), 1959, Dalla natura all’arte (From Nature to Art), 1960, and Arte e contemplazione (Art and Contemplation), 1961. It was there that for the first time the happy union between art and textile occurred: Paolo Marinotti put the rooms of the palace at the disposal of the creative genius of his artists, as well as the innovating materials of the Snia Viscosa, which was run by his father, Franco.
Today the echo of that experience is re-evoked in Stingel’s project, which takes over the exhibition area with his “carpets” to transcend that bi-dimensionality traditionally associated with painting.
The wall-to-wall carpet, which Stingel has used since the early nineties as an autonomous pictorial element, enters again the rooms of the Venetian house. This time, the Oriental pattern of the carpet not only invades the floors but the walls as well in a continuity that overthrows the ordinary spatial relationships between the spectator and the painting. The carpet celebrates the millenary history of the “Serenissima,” projected onto the Mediterranean Sea and the Far East. At the same time,
the visitor’s mind is cast back to that Middle-European world dear to the painter, which finds its emblematic figuration in Sigmund Freud’s study in early twentieth-century Vienna.
The artist’s reference to the study of the father of psychoanalysis offers a key to interpret the installation: the feeling of containment and the sensory experience that the visitor discovers when entering this “labyrinth” prelude to a trip into the Ego with its repressions and illusions, where each
painting contributes to forming a topography of the unconscious. The architectural space becomes a meditation place, a silent and enveloping site of introjection and projection. The use of the wall-towall carpet turns the exhibition’s path into one single environment, unfolding across the rooms of Palazzo Grassi and altering their visual and spatial perception, while suggesting a new, rarefied and suspended atmosphere, in which the silver, black and white of the paintings stand out, opening onto a
new dimension.Almost inevitably one’s thoughts go to another topography that, thanks to its relationship with Palazzo Grassi and with Venice, bears strong similarities with Rudolf Stingel’s installation: the Venezie cycle of olii created by Lucio Fontana for Paolo Marinotti’s 1961 Arte e contemplazioneexhibition. The crucial role that Paolo Marinotti and François Pinault—collectors/patrons—respectively play in Fontana’s and Stingel’s personal and artistic experiences leads us to associate the
work of these two artists, which at Palazzo Grassi reaches a highly significant phase. By offering artists the space to exhibit their works and the materials to create them, Marinotti
represents the model of a new and pioneering way of conceiving the relationship between patron and artist as one founded on mutual recognition and esteem, sharing and open-mindedness, the main creative principle being expressive freedom. For the Dalla natura all’arte exhibition at Palazzo Grassi, Fontana uses the Snia textiles to create an environment, entitled Esaltazione di una forma, in which a structure covered with cloth filters artificial light and changes the perception of space.
Enrico Tantucci, “Palazzo Grassi, casa d’arte,” La Tribuna di Treviso, December 30th, 2008, p. 34.
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