Is Painting Dead? Or Sculpture?

The preceding post weighed in with a few tons of metal—maybe too much of Stella’s sculpture all at once. But the ideas are not new to this blog. I’ve already mentioned Stephen Melville’s argument that sculpture has been liquidated between the forces of painting and architecture. It looks like Stella has set out to prove that—and testify to the acuity of Clement Greenberg’s famous comments about the opticality of sculpture. Those painters who object to Stella’s characterization of his reliefs as painting are really missing the boat—they don’t see that it is a heroic defense of the medium. And yet…if painting depends on some kind of plane of illusion, as I have argued myself, then sculptural efforts are hardly necessary. But that doesn’t mean they are not worth making.

Frank Stella, Chatal Huyuk Level VI A. 1999

Frank Stella, Chatal Huyuk Level VI A. 1999

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One Response to Is Painting Dead? Or Sculpture?

  1. Martin Mugar says:

    It has been a pleasure to see these images of Stella’s work on your site, which seem much more heroic in the context of the plethora of inert installation work in contemporary galleries. Their strength to my eye come from an impressive will to make the parts into a dynamic whole. This sort of will to totality is rare in today’s art world and of course has been anathematized by postmodernist attacks on any sort of revival of Baroque absolutism. I see a great homage to Bernini in his art.

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