Stories in Stories

Stella’s large sculpture, The Town-Ho’s Story, is, among other things, a collection of smaller pieces. I’ve mentioned this before, but as I suggested in the previous post, parts of the main body of the work could also be seen separately, like characters in a story. The notion of an abstract work as populated by interacting parts rather than as a single integrated thing is pretty interesting, as it opens abstraction to art history—meaning the painted drama and painted narratives of the past. Stella’s method is collage, and his sculpture is similar to his prints in that respect. And since this is abstraction, the implied narrative is built out of a dialogue with other works, such as the prints for example. The wire mesh wrapped around the upper regions of The Town-Ho’s Story resembles the computer generated schematics of Stella’s smoke ring photos, used in many of his prints and paintings. Lightness and airiness are again the keywords.

side view of "The Town-Ho's Story" showing the Chinese lattice and wave/whale grouping that could be detached as a separate Moby-Dick piece and the wire mesh at the top

side view of The Town-Ho’s Story showing the Chinese lattice and wave/whale grouping that could be detached as a separate Moby-Dick piece and the wire mesh at the top

Frank Stella, The Whale-Watch 1993

Frank Stella, The Whale-Watch 1993

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