More than two dimensions but short of three, so, for me, 2.7 is probably a very good place to be.
- Frank Stella
Over the course of a career that has spanned six decades, Frank Stella has continually and doggedly pursued the question: what does it mean to make a painting? Stella’s work has progressed from a deadpan flatness that wiped any remaining vestiges of space from the picture plane to an exuberant dimensionality that hovers between painting and sculpture.
Stella’s earliest series—the Black Paintings of the late 1950s and the Concentric Squares begun in the 1960s—boldly assert their status as objects, their flat surfaces and logic-driven constructions confirming the artist’s desire to “force illusionistic space out of painting at a constant rate.” With his Polish Village series, begun in 1971, Stella’s paintings gained a sculptural dimensionality—one that the artist saw as a logical continuation of his project, saying, “a sculpture is just a painting cut out and stood up somewhere.”
In examples from the Polish Villages and each progressive series, on view in Dominique Lévy Gallery and Marianne Boesky Gallery’s joint ADAA booth, Stella attempts to again reinvent the possibilities of the medium and occupy a new pictorial space, moving further away from the fixed geometries of his early paintings. In the 1980s, when the art world had all but abandoned painting as irrelevant, Stella’s Moby Dick works announced the artist’s move toward three-dimensionality while resolutely maintaining their status as paintings and the artist as, above all, a painter. More recently, in the Imaginary Places (1990s) and Scarlatti K seriess (2000s), Stella uses digital technology to build the same kinds of abstract pictorial spaces he has been creating for decades, resulting in monumental abstractions that conjure both technological and biological associations.