A Different Line

Stella’s line doesn’t have the snap of de Kooning’s. With ready made and geometric shapes he has had little opportunity to develop as a draftsman. I have seen some nice drawing in the later works, on the Moby Dicks, but Stella’s work really happens in the collage so he has a kind of built in distance that gives a lot of potential. De Kooning’s clever wrist is a

dekooning

Willem de Kooning, Fire Island 1946

limitation, although it sounds churlish to say so when it gives so much pleasure. Stella’s work is less unified but intellectually more spacious. In this work the thin blue shape scooping into the picture from the right hand edge looks like nothing so much as

Frank Stella, Monstrous Pictures of Whales 1993

Frank Stella, Monstrous Pictures of Whales 1993

a leftover scrap of paper, something from in-between two or more cut out shapes—not a formed, drawn shape, but a piece of waste—a non-drawing. That’s very interesting, and not usual for de Kooning. Stella has used those kind of shapes a lot in his later career, and one can’t always tell where they come from. In this piece the blue-black-green spindly

Frank Stella, The Quarter Deck 1985-89

Frank Stella, The Quarter Deck 1985-89

thing across the top is one of the oddest and most interesting shapes I’ve seen in a picture. I wouldn’t call it beautiful, but it’s not easily forgotten. In some drawings, like this one,

Willem de Kooning, Black and White Rome S 1959

Willem de Kooning, Black and White Rome S 1959

de Kooning uses collage, and the results are also very interesting. Collage puts his skill in another context, gives a distance.

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