Tag Archives: painted reliefs

Max Weiler

Max Weiler was an Austrian artist with a long career, during the latter part of which he was an abstractionist, with a strong leaning toward landscape. This piece is shockingly close to Stella’s Moby Dick works, though made of cardboard … Continue reading

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Jessica Stockholder

If we posit some kind of unlocatable boundary between painting and sculpture, then Pfaff appears to be on the painting side and Jessica Stockholder might be just across the line into sculpture. Or is it the other way around? This … Continue reading

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Judy Pfaff

My frequent meditations on the work of Frank Stella come out of my deep interest in it, however, it’s important to realize that he hasn’t worked in a vacuum, and many other artists have made valuable contributions, opening up the … Continue reading

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Paper Works

Last fall I saw a very nice paper relief by Lynda Benglis at the Blanton in Austin Texas, part of the Vogel donation to that museum. It wasn’t this one, which is in another section of that vast gift, but … Continue reading

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Shaped Canvas 8

This piece by Martin Barré is very similar to another by François Morellet shown on this blog over a year ago. The continuation of the line across several discrete panels makes their edges more vivid—the panels punch holes in the … Continue reading

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The Price of Greatness

Readers of this blog will know that I am a great admirer of the work of Frank Stella. It seems I’m in a minority. I was talking to a friend who calls him the Leroy Neiman of contemporary art, and … Continue reading

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Stella’s Prints

I’ve been enjoying Stella’s prints, and discovering one series after another. Usually each new one is a challenge. I have the catalogue raisonné of the prints up to 1982, and look at it with pleasure every day. And the prints … Continue reading

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The Planar Dimension

Been reading the catalog of a 1979 show at the Guggenheim Museum called The Planar Dimension. The essay by Margit Rowell can only be described as lucid and enlightening. Her discussion of Picasso’s constructions is brilliant, and the essay in … Continue reading

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Love Letters

I’ve been enjoying a group of small works in Stella’s Kleist series named after some of the writer’s love letters. Each one has a nice formal gesture; this piece, for example, has parts that swing up and down in opposite … Continue reading

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Bornowsky’s Spheres

I’ve written a review of Vancouver artist Eli Bornowsky’s recent show in Toronto, soon to appear in the on-line edition of Canadian Art. His small works had wooden spheres, some drawn over with lines, attached to shaped supports. There are … Continue reading

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Is Painting Dead? Or Sculpture?

The preceding post weighed in with a few tons of metal—maybe too much of Stella’s sculpture all at once. But the ideas are not new to this blog. I’ve already mentioned Stephen Melville’s argument that sculpture has been liquidated between … Continue reading

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Moving Out and Staying Back

I’m still getting great enjoyment out of Frank Stella’s Moby Dick series, which seems to be a kind of culmination. With the next series, built around the writings of Kleist, he gives up the method of constructing in superimposed planes … Continue reading

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A Flat Bird

In the catalog of the Stella retrospective in Wolfsburg I find a surprising member of the Exotic Birds series. At eight feet wide it is hardly a sketch, but it looks exactly like the preliminary drawings for that series. Most … Continue reading

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Slightly Overwhelming

I’m pretty familiar with the illustrations in Robert Wallace’s book on the Moby Dick series, but when I see the actual pieces don’t usually recognize them. There’s something about the size and detail and rawness of the works that stuns … Continue reading

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The Facts

This blog has given a fair amount of time to Frank Stella, and my attention was moving to other things—there are a few posts coming up on the topic of time. However, my interest in Stella has just been revived … Continue reading

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Unremarkable

I have a catalog from the Albright-Knox called American Painting of the Seventies. As it happens few of the included are what we would call 70s artists, they are mostly good artists who happened to be alive and working during … Continue reading

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Breath

Stella says about his famous smoke ring photographs that “…if they do not stand for the human figure, I do not know what does.” There’s a long tradition in both literature and religion that equates breath with life, and photographed … Continue reading

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Modes of Abstraction and Styles of Writing

Robert Wallace has shown me that I was mistaken about Stella’s work, as in fact many are. Though at first sight the Moby Dick works seem attractively chaotic, it would be wrong to assume that they have a fundamental arbitrariness, … Continue reading

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Change, Evolution, Progress

Been reading Stephen Jay Gould’s Wonderful Life, finally, after long postponement. Well worth the time and effort. One point he makes, which can never bear too much repetition, is that evolution does not mean progress or development. We commonly use … Continue reading

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Hofmann

Stella is on record as a huge admirer of Hans Hofmann, so the resemblance of this early print to the Moby Dick works should not be surprising. This Hofmann is imaginatively and pictorially more substantial than, say, a typical ink … Continue reading

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Picasso’s Tricks

I’m always struck by the fact that the most skilled artists, Picasso and Cézanne for two examples, go out of their way to plan pictures that they could carry off straight out, without much preparation. Whereas the average artist has … Continue reading

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Complexity and Simplification

Throughout the twentieth century, the formal complexities of modernist art have driven artists to simplify and clarify their work. Judd and the other minimalists were doubtless right in their feeling that abstract painting had become too fiddly and fussy about … Continue reading

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Modernist Method

An example of modernist practice in its purest form might be the paintings of Paul Klee. He starts with a formal idea, a method, a sense of how relationships should play out, and the work is generated from that. Whether … Continue reading

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Another Correction

Earlier I suggested that Frank Stella is the Picasso of the last half of the twentieth century, and that what gives him such an high stature is his capacity for change. I was a little doubtful at the time, and … Continue reading

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Overlapping, Interlacing

Arp’s figuration is a bit like Klee’s, it has an aura of innocence and a species of humor, both of which are bound to make it widely popular. But though it seems inoffensive and kind of cute at first meeting, … Continue reading

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Arp

A glance at Arp’s reliefs places him as one of Stella’s predecessors. In fact, Stella has acknowledged him. The work has a charming minor quality but is still thought provoking. In this piece, for example, it looks as if the … Continue reading

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Profile

Some of the Moby Dick works present a clearly defined boundary or profile, which closes them off—at least from the front. From the side they will look very different. But what interests me is the articulation of form inside the … Continue reading

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Painted Surfaces

With the very complexly painted Moby Dick pieces, the original paper sketch makes it much easier to see the underlying form. That the painting on top of the forms works to hide and confuse them, to make it difficult to … Continue reading

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Plurimi

It’s worth it to spend more time on the comparison in the preceding post, which doesn’t need much commentary. Plurimi is a made-up name. Two views of the same piece, which has a crystalline quality—enclosing parts of the viewing space … Continue reading

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Emilio Vedova

The Plurimi of Emilio Vedova are clear precursors of Stella’s relief paintings, and the differences between the two groups of work are revealing. Vedova’s works had an origin in sets for an opera by Luigi Nono that he had done … Continue reading

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