Color and Mark

I used to think that Stella’s Exotic Birds were not his best works. I could appreciate them as a necessary breakthrough, but bad works nevertheless. I never liked the template approach, that the forms were ready-made and just decorated with paint. Maybe I was guilty of something I criticize in others—being too systematic, too stuck on my principles. Today I’m more and more impressed by the variety, expressiveness and intelligence of Stella’s color choices in these works. I’d also like to dispense with one shibboleth of criticism in the 80s, and even the 70s—that Stella’s brushstrokes, like Richter’s, are “quotations” of abstract expressionist brush strokes. I call variety of mark objectivity and find it inspiring and liberating.

Frank Stella, Bonin Night Heron 1976

Frank Stella, Eskimo Curlew 1976

Also interesting is the consistent presence of planes within planes, and frames within frames. Pictures within pictures—spaces for the forms to move in and out of.

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