Old and New

Stella’s work always offers the same experience—each new series looks awful at first, and then time reveals its beauties. How much more revealing of quality is a good strong dislike than the bland suspension of judgment most appropriate today. I only feel embarrassed at the time lag in myself, but…it’s getting shorter. These recent works are made with rapid prototyping technology. I saw a very big one, all gray, just out of the corner of my eye, on a visit to a private collection earlier this year; didn’t have time to actually look at it, but it felt impressive. The titles refer to the sonatas of Scarlatti, so they have a musical beginning. The forms come out of early abstraction, especially Kandinsky. The most obviously

Frank Stella, K. 450

Frank Stella, K. 450

Kandinsky-like I’ve seen so far is K.43, reproduced in an earlier post. In fact, there’s already a literature on how much that piece resembles Kandinsky’s Painting


Wassily Kandinsky, Painting with White Border 1913

with White Border. The piece included in this post has a lot of the same formal ideas, but their roots in the past are less obvious. Stella seems to be looking at how Kandinsky uses drawing, and drawing with color. He also appears to be interested in fading and blending, and how that makes auras of color. It occurs to me that the curved shapes are a natural way to make a self-contained arrangement, and if we see that in Kandinsky it then looks like his compositions aspire to the frameless, free-standing designs of Stella.

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