Had Gadya

Still on the topic of Stella’s prints, my new catalog documents three of the Had Gadya pieces from original collage to an interim state. In all of them the first version seems, to my eyes, to have a clearer structure, in this case the up, over and down on the clones and pillars, centered by the irregular geometric splash. The arrangement of shapes has its own interest, and Stella doesn’t change it as he moves along, but it gets harder to see. 

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Original collage

Actually that’s not exactly clear because I’m not looking at the actual works, and photographs are very misleading. They are not small, and the tumbling tubes are probably pretty striking in person. But what seems to be happening is that in the

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Early resolved version

final version the color is closer valued, less contrasty, more muted and thick. Some features are obscured, like the turquoise shape at lower right, which the collage shows

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Frank Stella, Then Water Came and Quenched the Fire, #6 from Had Gadya 1982-84

clearly to be cut out. That hole is more or less lost in the final version. The light and bright bits take more attention to retrieve. That could be an effect of the reproductions, but it gives one valid direction for the working process. In this piece the scribbled framing band is definitely improved in the final state over the second state, because the yellow makes the tilted inner not-exactly-rectangular rectangle pop out more, but notice that the olive green on that rectangle (allowing that the color might not be exactly the same because no two photographs are identical) has the same pattern but the red and green scribbles on top of the olive green are different – so they are not really scribbles, but thought through.

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