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Painting: A Record of Action

September 9, 2009

Making my way through a somewhat unruly handout regarding Constellations, the MCA’s current offering of paintings from the collection closing October 18th, I was reminded of a show of “paintings” by Rudolf Stingel that I toured a couple years ago.  While maybe a fourth of the work in the show could be considered painting in a traditional sense, several pieces maintained the categorization despite their obvious lack of, well, paint.

Rudolf Stingel Rudolf Stingel

These pieces were comprised primarily of common building materials such as installation, Styrofoam and carpet.  All of them denied not only the use of paint but also the very nature of painting as an additive/creative technique.  Instead, the artist destroyed his canvas-carving and chipping away at the surface, even going so far as to dip his shoes into acid and walk across the thick slabs of styrofoam, sinking in as if into freshly fallen snow.

Furthermore, the artist invited the viewer to participate in this act of creation/destruction. Covering the lobby and the main hallway of the museum with glimmering, foil covered, insulation, the artist (whether or not unknowingly) invited viewers to kick, punch, scrape, tear, puncture, graffiti, litter, deface and otherwise destroy the material-ultimately creating the largest impromptu collaborative work I have ever seen.

mcachicago02-766421 stingelslide2

It was a painting only in the sense that it was a visible record of the participants’ actions.

Another great example of this that came to my mind tonight? Well, see for yourself (and try to remember to put down a canvas before trying this at home. Your landlord will thank you.)

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