Domes and Circles

In general you could say that Stella’s prints are where he keeps touch with the normative form of art—two dimensional and bounded by a rectangle. The relief paintings and sculpture break right out of the frame, and the prints are more like traditional paintings. In Moby Dick reliefs like these the Chinese lattice is rendered on top of a metal disk, which is also the support for the wave/whale shapes and other geometric parts.

Frank Stella, The Tail (B9, 2X) 1988

Frank Stella, The Tail (B9, 2X) 1988

Frank Stella, The First Lowering (B-1, 1X—1st. version) 1988

Frank Stella, The First Lowering (B-1, 1X—1st. version) 1988

In the prints the lattice form is just an image, and so the break out from the frame also occurs as an image—I’ve discussed this before. Here’s another Dome print with various shapes floating over the lattice. The broken pieces of the frame within the frame help with the idea of a break-out from the limits of the traditional picture, but of course are just parts of another kind of picture. The white wave/whale shape with heavy black lines is drawn on a yellow floating picture plane that looks like it might have broken loose from the right hand edge, the very small scribbly forms above it are drawn on a piece of another, which looks like it’s fallen out of the top right corner. What we have here are picture planes as images, apparently floating in space, not the same space they themselves contain. Whereas in the reliefs the shapes are cut out and stand or float by themselves, in the prints they are put back into the illusionistic frame of the two dimensional picture, which now is many pictures—pictures within pictures.

Frank Stella, "Jonah Historically Regarded," from Moby Dick Domes

Frank Stella, “Jonah Historically Regarded,” from Moby Dick Domes

The framing bits are the yellow and red strips around the edges, but most interesting is the large green three sided shape on the left. A very similar part is in the print illustrated in the previous post, only there it’s red. Frames within frames allow Stella to play games with trompe l’oeil, which gives projecting spaces; overlapping shapes can make receding spaces. Meanwhile, the blue oval at the bottom with white lines of force resembles some kind of sky map—a touch of the cosmic? The elements are not really new, but the ensemble sure feels fresh.

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