Mugar writes: "There is an analogy here to Stella and his relationship to the long optical tradition of western painting. The crew of the Pequod which experiences a hands on feel for the world around them is not experienced by Ahab in its essence but is manipulated and ignored in the way Stella’s colors are abstract in the worst sense, derived from color-aid packs, not the way color is experienced in the eye as you see in Bonnard, Matisse or Cezanne. He has left artistically the sensuality of being in the world behind in order to fulfill what he sees as his manifest destiny to occupy more and more space. His formal elements are not achieved but imposed as he piles patterns on top of patterns. If there is an analogy in Stella’s lack of grounding in the sensual it fails in comparison to Ahab himself. Stella does not live up to the ascetic delirium of Ahab. The journey he takes us on is neither majestic nor exhilarating. There is no hint at the void that lies under all of his exploits."
Schjeldahl writes that the show "will likely provoke varied opinions, on a scale from great to god-awful. The crowded installation of huge abstract paintings, reliefs, sculptures, and painting-sculpture hybrids, augmented by works on paper, tracks the New York artist’s fifty-seven-year career. At the start is the deathly glamour of Stella’s Black Paintings—bands in matte enamel, separated by fuzzy pinstripes of nearly bare canvas—which shocked everyone with their dour simplicity when they appeared in a show at the Museum of Modern Art, in 1959. Those works, which Stella began making when he was a senior at Princeton, amounted to tombstones for Abstract Expressionism and heralds of minimalism. The new show ends with one crazy-looking mode after another, mostly in the form of wall-hung constructions, created since the early nineteen-seventies. In between are too few of the swaggering compositions—of target-like concentric stripes, designs based on compasses and protractors, and shaped canvases that echo the shapes painted on them—that made Stella a god of the sixties art world, exalting tastes for reductive form, daunting scale, and florid artificial color."
Blog post revisiting Philip Leider's 1978 profile of painter Frank Stella republished on the occasion of a retrospective of Stella's work at the Whitney Museum of Art, on view through Feb. 7, 2016.
Leider, whose profile focuses specifically on Stella's work from the 1970s, notes: "Every artist of the better sort, wrote Thomas Mann, 'carries within him a canon of the forbidden, the self-forbidding.' A change of style of the magnitude undergone by Stella in the last two years constitutes a restatement of this canon, a shift in the view of what is possible and what is not possible to abstraction at any given time. In these most recent works, Stella, throwing open the doors to much that had hitherto seemed to him forbidden—figure-ground dichotomies, composition, gestural paint-handling, etc.—has achieved for abstraction a renewed animation, life, vitality, that has already about it some-thing of the sheerly miraculous. One would be blind not to see it, catatonic not to feel it, perverse not to acknowledge it, spiritless and obtuse not to admire it."
Nadja Sayej profiles painter Frank Stella. A retrospective of Stella's work will be on view at the Whitney Museum, New York, from October 30, 2015 - February 7, 2016.
Sayej writes: "Even though his work has evolved drastically – from monochromatic to colorful, sculpted to fabricated – Stella cringes at the word 'reinvented'. 'I don’t like the word reinvent, you’re lucky enough to invent,' he said. 'It’s about what you make, what you learn from it and what it suggests. And move on.'"
Klein writes "What I ... appreciate and admire is his restlessness and almost relentless need for invention and exploration. He addresses painting as a proposition. In that proposition exist many solutions and permutations and the possibilities of precisely how far you could push the notion of painting into something that might actually evolve into sculpture. If Sol Lewitt moved painting from the canvas to the wall, then Stella moved painting into the third dimension. He made something come off the wall into the viewer’s space. Ironically both men rely upon an architectural setting to provide the context in which the work is to be presented. Lewitt needs a wall or walls that determine the height and length of a wall drawing, Stella the dimensions of a wall because his paintings are no longer bound by the limits of stretcher bar or frame."
Dooley writes that the exhibtion "brings together a group of collages from the 20th century united by the stylistic trait of 'painterliness.' ... Though painterliness obviously has its roots in painting, this exhibition shows how easily and successfully the concept can be applied to other mediums; painterliness is, in a sense, materiality, which is why collage – the mixing of different materials and forms – seems to be one of the best mediums to demonstrate this visual effect."
http://themaximilian.com/#Shadowy Things and the Pulpit of Modernism
Considering works by Van Gogh, Kandinsky, and Frank Stella, Mark Stone muses on the ongoing tension between figuration and pure abstraction in abstract painting.
Stone wrties: "What our abstract painting lacks is a more comprehensive way of seeing and producing imagery that accomodates both our lens-based dematerialised culture and the physical life we live. Our painting should define a different kind of visual engagement and understanding, one that moves us beyond the detrimental influence of our mannered Modernism. At this point in Post-modern cultural history we painters must begin to resolve the problem of illusionistic thickness defined in Stella’s early Black Paintings and the legacy of that shadow cast by van Gogh’s table. Yet, we choose to remain forever elsewhere, floating in Kandinsky’s nebulous universe."
Linsley writes: "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 in 1961. The effort was to make an enveloping space, to place the viewer within the work... Vedova is trying to spread, to conquer space; Stella, as he has often said, stays pictorial, if pictorial means a kind of gathering of everything together in front of a ground plane."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.