|Rudolf Stingel, Untitled (Paula), 2012 (11 x 15 ')|
Stingel's huge, photo-realist painting of gallerist Paula Cooper is based on a photograph of Cooper from the 1980s. The painting was recently exhibited at Art Basel as part of the Art Unlimited show, and I've been obsessing over it since I saw it in the Times a few weeks ago. (The painting was reportedly purchased for $3 million by François Pinault, before the fair opened.)
Critic Jerry Saltz on Paula Cooper, from a 2005 Village Voice review of a show by Stingel that included another portrait of Cooper:
Just as Stingel has tried to redefine what painting can be, Cooper is and has been a model for the kind of dealer most dealers start out wanting to be: compassionate, activist, and responsible. Cooper is one of the most respected gallerists in the history of art dealers. Curator Francesco Bonami calls her "the Greta Garbo of art dealers-detached and a true believer in the power of art."
Hers was the first gallery to open in Soho and among the first to show the work of Sol LeWitt, Carl Andre, Walter De Maria, Jennifer Bartlett, Jonathan Borofsky, Lynda Benglis, and Robert Gober. Over the years, she has allowed her gallery to be used for everything from the Student Mobilization Committee to end the war in Vietnam, to ACT UP benefits, to NARAL meetings. Now open for more than 40 years, her gallery continues to do great shows.
The most striking thing about Stingel's [2005 portrait of Cooper, based on a 1984 photo by Robert Mapplethorpe] is how candidly he renders Cooper's beauty. This painting reminded me of the huge crush I had on her 25 years ago when I worked as a truck driver and used to make deliveries to her gallery. She always gave us snacks.