Palmito Ranch, 1961
Alkyd on canvas
Unfamiliar with this work here, I wonder who much Robert Irwin was?
Conway I, 1966
Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paint on canvas
Effingham II, 1966
Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paint on canvas
Jarmolince III, 1973
Mixed media on board
Kamionka Strumilowa IV, 1972
Mixed media collage
Alkyd and Magna on etched magnesium
This is where things run off the rails for me with Stella. Possibly for him as well... Whereas in his earlier works, the paint seemed very much integrated into the form of the canvas in terms of mark, movement and dimension. There the paint is arbitrary at best, flung over the top of sculptural elements. So, rather than following the form with earlier work, there seems to be clear separation between object and surface, though not in a good way like Pollock (the obvious reference) or possibly Olitski or someone like that. Perhaps this separation is to the point in Stella's evolution as he begins to take a greater interest not only in three dimensions but also irrational space, one occupied more by curves, tangents and the like. Would these works be single colors or each element a single color within a limited palette range, I would like them better and find them easier to follow. As they are, they are too discordant for my taste.
ABS RPT (rapid prototype technology with stainless steel)
Contrary to the previous work (Talladega), this one seems to satisfy and resolve my earlier concern (up to a point). Now, color and form have integrated into similar movements with greater harmony. The cacophony of shadows is another matter, but at least the visual noise of the earlier splatter painting on three-dimensional form (high reliefs, actually, if one were to think about the use of space and the insistent on maintaining a relationship to the wall throughout). Suddenly, the works of Liz Larner or similar come into view in relationship to a work like this one. Whereas her works, maintains a wonderfully open-ended relationshp to the viewing experience, this one here keeps returning to the opening in the center, the pupil, the exploding eye, if you will. So, Bontecou also comes to mind but less about shape and space, and the continual insistentence of the line in this one.
Lac Large III, 1969
Acrylic on canvas
Gobba, zoppa e collotorto, 1985
Oil, urethane enamel, fluorescent alkyd,
acrylic, and printing ink on etched magnesium and aluminum
Somehow, viewing K.44 at the end of the exhibition, allowed me to walk back through the show to the earlier works, and begin to appreciate, more so, the progressions within the shlockier work that I am not fond of such as Talladega. It's also the kind of work, young students of art like. So, there is a kind of getting it all out without a sense of limitations. It's been said many times about Stella how his earliest works backed himself into a pictorial corner, and he has blowing it out the other end ever since. Or maybe, I have said that last part. If one were to stop and think about it, without the obvious bodily references, it's an interesting thought about time and space and how painting and sculpture can demonstrate such. Perhaps arriving to much at a didactic point, however, I think it's worth at least considering.
The Blanket (IRS-8), 1.875X), 1988
Mixed media on cast magnesium and aluminum
Marquis de Portago (first version), 1960
Aluminum oil paint on canvas
Jasper's Dilemma, 1962
Alkyd on canvas
And so the return to the beginnings... One eye on light and dark, one on color. How such concerns synchronize IS the function and purpose of art, an activity of looking and resolving such distinctions as it pertains to focus, depth, differentiation, etc...
East Broadway, 1958
Oil on canvas
Not ever having seen or even learned about these earliest of works, the interest and career trajectory seems straightforward enough. While looking at a wall, a building, the side of barn or whatever, the questions arise about where one stands in relationship to a door. Upon the decision to enter (perhaps like some kind of Pandora's Box once opened), there is no turning back, as a painter, as artist set to discover the time-honored issues of depth as it pertains to the perception of real or imagined spaces. After having painting every side of the building in black and white, Stella clearly opened the door and spent the next sixty years wrestling the explosion.
Perhaps, I have forced too large a narrative on this work, possibly out of a feeling a need to appreciate this work, or possibly because I simply tend to do such things. Whatever the case, I'm less enchanted by the work of Frank Stella having seen this exhibition, and I consider that a good thing. While I share his interest in multi-dimensional space and how that is set up through thinking about how we occupy interior and exterior conditions simultaneously, I actually don't think he has gone far enough once he decide to extend the dimensional space, literally, of painting as far as he has. At some point, the need to hold onto the wall stops making sense to me, as I become interested in looking around all sides of the object. Because Stella maintains a frontal stance with his work, it makes me think there may be nothing inside after all, and I don't sense that to be the case.
Lettre sur les Aveugles II, 1974
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
It was not quite clear to me where this work situates in relationship to the exhibition because there were a few works elsewhere in the the museum (and this may be because of the kind of space that the De Young is and what it was able to show in an already overly packed exhibition space). That aside, this work seemed to resolve the earlier Jasper Dilemman by integrated elements of light and dark (contrast) with color, two different and interwoven ways of thinking about how light and color function within human viewing (optics). Roto-reliefs and video-camera feedback loops also come to mind, all occupied with optics and perception of movement, something Stella seems to care little about ultimately.