College of Communications and Fine Arts Art Museum of the University of Memphis
Frank Stella

(Audio Commentary)

Frank Stella

American (Malden, Mass., 1936)



Frank Stella installation photo

At the time he made this print, Frank Stella was a 28-year-old phenomenon whose Black Series paintings had been shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In that series, black stripes of equal width followed the rectangle of the canvas. Stella claimed that the painting and canvas were inseparable components of an object. The painting was a thing, not on a thing or about a thing. This idea turned on its head Ad Reinhardt's goal in his black paintings. Instead of radically simplifying painting to its transcendent experiential essence, Stella distilled painting into a solid, physical object. Throughout his career, Stella has systematically complicated this proposition to the point where his objects became wildly colored and curvaceous sculptures. "Rabat," part of his Morocco series, was a first step in this direction. In it, Stella adopts the traditional square tile shape and the blue and yellow colors of North African ceramics to his earlier patterns of the Black Series.


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Last Updated: 11/2/12