View of “Rudolf Stingel,” 2007 Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

View of “Rudolf Stingel,” 2007 Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Rudolf Stingel

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)

THE AUSTERELY MINIMALIST interior of Chicago’s Josef Paul Kleihues–designed Museum of Contemporary Art may never have looked so good as when lit by the fluorescent hues of Dan Flavin’s neon retrospective in 2005, but until now—that is, until the arrival of Rudolf Stingel’s current installation—it had never been put to such good use. For this, his first large-scale survey exhibition in the United States, Stingel seems intent on emphasizing the distinction between the logics of appearance and purpose. (It is precisely this dialectic that has motivated his twenty-year investigation into what he calls the “subject of painting,” by which he means both painting as a subject, and the subject as constructed by painting.) And so, to start things off, Stingel has wrapped the expansive heights of the museum’s atrium in a soft, gently reflective silver skin of the building-insulation material

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