Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Spot on

Posting about Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgallerie building, we forgot to mention that the Rudolf Stingel carpet that covered the entire upper floor of the building was in fact a photograph. A photograph printed on carpet not paper, but a photograph nonetheless. Stingel photographed an old Indian Agra rug he owned, had it enlarged and then printed in black and white on carpet. Is this the largest photograph in the world? It is certainly one of the more provocative given the horrible conditions in which hand-knotted carpets are produced. 

Downstairs Stingel continued his investigation into the nature of photography with some black and white paintings of landscapes based on black and white photographs. Anyone who knows a photographer will also know of that tedious process called spotting. (Peter Peryer has talked about the problem on his blog in reference to the print Headless Chicken, I wish that I had made more, but at the time I was put off by the amount of 'spotting' that each print needed. Spotting involves poring over the print for hours with a fine paint brush and a bottle of ink touching up imperfections, or spots.")

In the images Stingel uses for his paintings, the blemishes that would usually be painstakingly removed from a photograph with various shades of white, grey and black spotting paint are painstakingly reproduced with shades of white, grey and black oil paint. Even a fingerprint of the photographer (artist Ernst Kirchner) which he left on the negative is diligently reproduced in the painting. To reproduce some of these images on OTN as photographs felt perverse, but we went ahead and did it anyway.

Images: Top, an Agra rug reproduced photographically on carpet. Middle, blemishes from the original photographs used as source material reproduced on Stingel’s paintings (details). Bottom, installation of two Stingel paintings including Kirchner’s fingerprint at the rear.