Tag Archives: shaped canvas

Complex Process

It takes an effort of imagination for an ordinary viewer to recapture the enormous difficulty of Stella’s methods in the reliefs—time consuming, and requiring the coordination of many different activities and people. First he has to plan the work with … Continue reading

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Spherical Paintings

I made spherical paintings a number of years ago, and there is a page of them on my web site. The story is that I showed them for the first time in a group show in Vancouver. The morning after … Continue reading

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How Long Has This Been Going On?

The words of the song come to mind as I get swept up in Anton Ehrenzweig’s brilliant book. Apparently it’s quite popular, so I guess that means everyone knows these things, and I’m the only one out of the secret. … Continue reading

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Four-Sided Painting

Following from the previous post, a four sided painting, on two interlocking panels.

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Two-Sided Painting

Judging from the site statistics, there has been a lot of interest in my posts on Vedova. The idea of the many sided picture may have arrived, forty five odd years after Vedova’s Plurimi. I think it’s worth pursuing. This … Continue reading

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Another Precursor

Lately I have a tendency to compare everything to Stella—I guess that’s a measure of how highly I regard his contribution. But comparison is valid when the artist is working in a similar way, or with comparable goals. Turns out … Continue reading

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Colored Lines

One modernist tendency is to eliminate the distinction between color and drawing by reducing the work to colored lines. The idea has a beautiful simplicity and logic. It looks like the artist of this piece has assimilated the late unfinished … Continue reading

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Generational Change

The burden of these sad times we must obey Say what we mean, not what we ought to say The oldest have suffered most, we who are young May never see so much, nor live so long I’ve always loved … Continue reading

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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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Alfons Schilling

Alfons Schilling used to spin his round canvases on the wall and throw the paint on while they spun. The date is a shocker. A common response today would be that he anticipates Damien Hirst’s Spin Paintings, but I think … 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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Edges Early and Late

I was reading the catalog for the show Frank Stella 1958, and one of the writers, Megan Luke, explains Stella’s thinking about edges, which led to the early Black Paintings. He noticed that many of the second generation abstract expressionists … 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 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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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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Questionable or Not

On the British web site abstract critical there is more debate about Frank Stella. I’m on his side but most aren’t. Much of the criticism seems to be based on a perception that the work does not hold together formally—the … 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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Biomorphic

The previous comments on Hofmann and Stella started me thinking about this work. Most of the Moby Dick works combine the curvy forms of the wave/whale shapes with geometrical sections, but this one is completely biomorphic, maybe even expressionist. The … 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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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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Inventors of forms

Why abstraction has to be literary in some sense, is, as Stella has also pointed out, because otherwise it may not have enough of the meanings that we care about, that it may be thin, shallow and dessicated. As Wallace … Continue reading

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Stella’s Achievement

It’s always contentious to raise the subject of cubism in the context of American art. Today it seems remote. The pictures look small and intense in a way that pictures today are not. They also have a kind of antique … Continue reading

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Bringing the outside in

Another aspect of the way that Stella organizes individual works into groups by association, also well explicated by Wallace, is that in some cases he will cut a piece out of a wave-whale shape and then put the removed “negative” … Continue reading

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Stella’s Color

Among other things, the Moby Dick series marks a real advance in color. Stella’s color always had a dash of the arbitrary, which was one of its most interesting features. Personally I give the Protractors, along with Richter’s Color Charts, … Continue reading

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Painting in space

Stella’s constructions are to give him surfaces to paint on, so ultimately the work depends on the expressiveness of image, gesture and color, like any painting. A construction of curved, tilted and shaped flat surfaces or a single flat surface—is … Continue reading

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Putting shapes together

I’ve been reading Robert Wallace’s book on Frank Stella’s Moby Dick, and finding it very inspiring and important. More about the book itself later, but right now I want to keep thinking about Stella. Wallace says “he…[sees]…himself primarily as a … Continue reading

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