On Modern American Art: Selected Essays

By Robert Rosenblum | Go to book overview

STELLA'S THIRD DIMENSION 1983

In 1969 I wrote a short monograph on Frank Stella. It was easy enough to begin the text with an enthusiastic, full-scale treatment of the black-stripe paintings of 1959, works by a twenty-three-year-old that still loom large as watershed masterpieces of twentieth-century art. But it was not so easy to end my text, which had to stop short after only a little more than a decade of Stella's work. Hanging in midair, I resorted to a rhetorical flourish and claimed that we could "look ahead confidently to as much, even more, from the Stella of future decades as we have had from the Stella of the 1960s." The truth was that I didn't believe this. I felt that to leave him dangling in 1969, a time when his work looked solid but unchallenging, was in effect to wrap up and put to rest a brilliant, decade-long career in which a genius entered art history and changed its course drastically with a long run of great paintings in a short run of vintage years, after which he became increasingly irrelevant. There had been ample precedent for this relentless, almost Darwinian pattern in the heroic generation preceding Stella's. For our art-historical time capsules, wouldn't just three or four critical years of, say, Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko, or Still give us not only the major glories of their art but also the exact point at which they left their huge imprints on history? Following this cruel yet demonstrable logic, it was not hard to think in 1969 that, final diplomatic sentences aside, Stella belonged more to the past than the future.

To my continued amazement, my instinct turned out to be wrong and my hollowly sanguine prophecy to be right. For after 1969 Stella's work accelerated so rapidly in invention that beginning in 1976 with the Exotic Bird series (fig . 113), every new show provoked the same kind of jaw-dropping response demanded by those first black-stripe paintings of 1959. Once more it looked as if a totally fresh, youthful artist had appeared, almost from nowhere, to confront us with numbingly unfamiliar experiences that we could not blink away. Furthermore, the new work seemed entirely to negate the monkish austerity and renunciation with which Stella had entered the art scene in 1959. He started as a young Savonarola who banished from the vocabulary of painting everything suggestive of pleasure, freedom, and impulse, leaving us only with a bare skeleton, immobilized in rectilinear patterns of noncolors (black, aluminum, copper). But now he pushed to the opposite extreme, assaulting us with an overwhelming glut of every color in the plastic rainbow, with hard-edged arabesques of decorative curves and serpentine circuits, with every imaginable ragged doodle and scribble in an alphabet of reckless graffiti. Even more, he steered painting and sculpture into a

-180-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
On Modern American Art: Selected Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 386

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.