Rudolf Stingel’s Instructions, 1989 is a simple document comprising 24 pages surrounded by a heavier weight, vibrant orange cover. The pages detail the process of creating an Instruction painting in 6 different languages so that you might be inspired to produce your own. The limited number produced and the significance of this publication in the development of Stingel’s broader practice confer to make it a highly sought after object in its own right.
Stingel (b. Merano, Italy, 1956) published the manual to accompany his first public exhibition of Instruction paintings at Massimo De Carlo Gallery, Milan in 1989. The paintings were also later displayed at Paula Cooper Gallery, New York in 1994. These paintings simultaneously take their place in the lineage of abstract painting whilst eschewing the bravado and romanticism of the American Abstract movement by emphasising the relatively simple processes of manufacture. By distributing the manual alongside the paintings, Stingel questions authorship in contemporary art, a thread that continues throughout his practice most clearly evidenced later in the Celotex works, where audience participation plays a predominant role.
The process, as laid out in the Instruction manual, appears to be a simple one: apply oil paint in a colour of your choosing to a primed canvas, lay a scrim of cloth across the surface and remove the excess paint with a squeegee. Next, spray the surface with a silver enamel paint before removing the scrim to leave an iridescent, textured surface with the honeycomb imprint of the scrim remaining as fine channels through the paint.
Although the same steps are repeated for each and every one of the paintings in this series, there are a myriad of variables. The viscosity of the paint, the atmospheric conditions controlling the drying time before the scrim is removed etc. all contribute to create a painting that is as unique as a fingerprint.
We wholly recommend you give this process a go and make your own Instruction painting, just remember to find a well ventilated area first! Share your results with us via our Instagram account.