Questionable or Not

On the British web site abstract critical there is more debate about Frank Stella. I’m on his side but most aren’t. Much of the criticism seems to be based on a perception that the work does not hold together formally—the color is bad, the relief method doesn’t provide a satisfying unity, the paint handling is incompetent, and so on. My response is based on

Frank Stella, The Musket 1990

Frank Stella, The Musket 1990

feeling. The work feels right, and as I look further, I find that the arrangement of particulars supports my feeling. But I think it’s more that I have no pre-set idea of what constitutes “good” work. One’s feelings are more intelligent than one’s intelligence, and so they should be the guide. That sounds very Greenberg, but then Greenberg was right about some things, and not always about art. He didn’t have much use for Stella, apparently. In a late interview with Charles Harrison he says: “There’s too much thinking going on…when it comes to art watch out for thinking…Don’t think too much.” The objections to this are obvious, but so is its truth. In fact it’s a good prescription for the present—and a gloss on the previous post. Of course my antagonists will also claim the authority of feeling. It’s not possible intellectually to decide who is right, but what we really must do and can do is distinguish our knowledge and ideas from our experience. That is not a theoretical effort—it’s called studio practice.

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One Response to Questionable or Not

  1. Martin Mugar says:

    My comments on Stella in regards to abstraction are embedded in this article.

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