In the selection of works on view, Stella has applied his recognizable vibrant color palette across a number of formats, ranging from smaller, classically geometric drawings and lithographs to giant, exuberant abstract paintings. A highlight of the show, the seven-panel Die Marquise von O (1999), evokes a street mural in aesthetic and scale, measuring almost 45 feet in length. While the size alone is striking, given a closer look, the painting’s intricate construction unfolds; elaborate layers of acrylic and spray paint have been applied painstakingly. A faux collage of sorts, the work draws on the avant-garde technique of montage while testing the boundaries of abstraction and figuration. Its title is a reference to a novella by the 19th century visionary Heinrich von Kleist, who is known for his melodramatic prose. Also on view is a series of nine paintings, Michael Kohlhaas (2000), named for the main character of another von Kleist story.
While providing an interesting contextual backdrop to the work, having Kliest on your bookshelf is not integral to appreciating Stella’s ecstatic paintings. It’s interesting to consider that the works were made around 15 years ago. Stella’s fragmented, graphic compositions seem prophetic at times, recalling the scrolling aesthetics of Tumblr, for example, but pre-dating the platform’s rise to popularity by nearly a decade.