Empress of India


Frank Stella

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Empress of India

Frank Stella. Empress of India. 1965. Metallic powder in polymer emulsion paint on canvas, 6' 5" x 18' 8" (195.6 x 548.6 cm). Gift of S. I. Newhouse, Jr. © 2014 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Audio Program excerpt

MoMA Audio: Collection


Director, Glenn Lowry: In the late 1950s, Frank Stella began to make abstract pictures comprising parallel lines and patterns using a housepainters brush.

Curator, Leah Dickerman: The line in Frank Stella's paintings is repeated with hand-rendered stripes of house paint. They're all exactly the same size, repeating one after another with a small gap of bare canvas in between. Once the pattern is established they could be generated systematically, so that the structure for the work of art was deductive.

If you think about traditional notions of composition, there are suggestions of depth. Certain colors seem to protrude or recede; certain gestures would seem to give three-dimensional effects. And one thing that Stella's paintings did was deny depth.

Stella talked about wanting to create a picture that would have a strong and immediate visual impact “an imprint,” he called it—so that it was completely and immediately available to the eye. And you would see it all at once and not in component parts.

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