Frank Stella. The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II. 1959 466

Enamel on canvas, 7' 6 3/4" x 11' 3/4" (230.5 x 337.2 cm). Larry Aldrich Foundation Fund. © 2022 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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

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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