PRINT April 1970

Abstraction and Literalism: Reflections on Stella at the Modern

The idea in being a painter is to declare an identity. Not just my identity, an identity for me, but an identity big enough for everyone to share in. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
—Frank Stella, in conversation

BOTH ABSTRACTION AND LITERALISM look at Pollock for sanction; it is as if his work was the last achievement of whose status every serious artist is convinced. The way one reads Pollock influences in considerable measure the way one reads Stella, and the way in which one reads Pollock and Stella has a great deal to do, for example, with the kind of art one decides to make; art ignorant of both looks it. The abstractionist view of Pollock was most clearly expressed by Michael Fried, basing himself in part on Clement Greenberg, and that view is now so thoroughly a part of the literature that students run it through by rote; how his art broke painting’s dependence on a tactile, sculptural space; how the all-over system transcended the Cubist grid; how it freed line from shape, carried abstract art further from the depiction of things than had any art before; how it created “a new kind of space” in which objects are not depicted, shapes are not juxtaposed, physical events do not transpire. In short, the most exquisite triumph of the two-dimensional manner. From this appreciation of Pollock, or from views roughly similar, have come artists like Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Helen Frankenthaler and, partially at least, Frank Stella.

The literalist view of Pollock emerged somewhat more hazily, less explicitly, more in argument and conversation than in published criticism.1 Literalist eyes—or what were to become literalist eyes—did not see, or did not see first and foremost, those patterns as patterns of line freed from their function of bounding shape and thereby creating a new kind of space. They saw them first and foremost as skeins of paint dripped directly from the can. Paint, that is, which skipped the step of having a brush dipped into it; paint transferred from can to canvas with no contact with the artist’s traditional transforming techniques. You could visualize the picture being made—there were just no secrets. It was amazing how much energy was freed by this bluntness, this honesty, this complete obviousness of the process by which the picture was made. Another thing about Pollock was the plain familiarity with which he treated the picture as a thing. He left his handprints all over it; he put his cigarette butts out in it. It is as if he were saying that the kind of objects our works of art must be derive their strength from the directness of our attitudes toward them; when you feel them getting too arty for you (when you find yourself taking attitudes toward them that are not right there in the studio with you, that come from some place else, from some transmitted view of art not alive in the studio with you) give them a whack or two, re-establish the plain-ness of your relations with them.

Literalism thus sees in Pollock the best abstract art ever made deriving its strength from the affirmation of the objectness of the painting and from the directness of the artist’s relations to his materials. In short, the greatness of the abstraction is in large measure a function of the literalness of Pollock’s approach. Such a view of Pollock would naturally lead one to seek in quite different places for a way to continue making meaningful abstract art than would a view based on the abstractionist reading of Pollock. The kind of an object a painting was began to emerge forcefully as an issue in painting.

The objectness of painting was explored with great ingenuity and enormous sophistication by Jasper Johns during the middle and late fifties, but his literalism is consistently undermined by a Duchampian toying with irony and paradox, an impulse to amuse and be amused above all. How cleverly he seemed to dismiss problems that were draining the life out of abstract art! How easily those flags and targets seemed to diagnose and then cure the lingering illusionism and vestigial representationalism that plagued abstraction in the fifties. All that had to be done was a simple rehearsal of the differences between actual flags and actual paintings.

Needless to say, abstraction was not looking like that. Abstraction was discovering that objectness was the thing to beat, and that the breakthrough to look for was a breakthrough to an inspired two-dimensionalism, and that the way to do it was through color, and, as much as possible, through color alone. That the differences were immense can be seen simply by comparing a Noland circle painting with a Johns target. The one is about color and centeredness and two-dimensional abstraction, with no references whatever to objects or events of any kind in the three-dimensional world. The other is about an object called a target and an object called a painting, and, given the cleverness with which the problems are posed, were an instant success in colleges everywhere.

One college student, Stella, saw in Johns a way to an advanced all-overness. The cleverness, irony and paradox parts he left to others, perhaps figuring that if Still and Pollock could do without them he probably could too. From Johns, Noland could only have taken, if anything at all, the suggestion of the possibilities of a centered image. Stella, however, takes from Johns directly the striping idea: it solved the problem of keeping his pictures flat, and it solved it simply, clearly, and in a way that allowed him to move on to other things.

Stella was crucially interested in keeping his pictures flat because he was crucially interested in making abstract pictures that could survive as post-Pollock art. He was crucially interested in making abstract pictures, and only in making abstract pictures, and has never been interested in anything else to this day; the consistency of Stella’s anti-literalist ideas throughout his career is remarkable, as the extensive quotations from Stella’s both public and private remarks, scattered through the catalog text, make clear. As other abstractionists like Louis, Noland and Olitski—all older by at least ten years than Stella—pursued this ambition by exploring color, Stella thought the biggest obstacles to a greater abstraction were structural and compositional, and he went to work overcoming these with a cold, smartaleck, humorless methodicalness that showed up, in the paintings he finally exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in 1960, like a slap in the face.2

The pictures were insufferably arrogant. They seemed to reiterate nothing but insultingly simple principles that only his paintings, however, seemed to understand. Thus, if you are going to make an abstract painting, then you cannot make it in the kind of space used for not-abstract painting. And if you are going to make abstract pictures you have to be sure that your colors don’t suggest or take on the quality of non-abstract things, like sky or grass or air or shadow (try black, or if that’s too poetic, copper or aluminum). And if one is going to make an abstract painting one should be thoughtful about what kind of image one chooses, how it is placed and what kind of shape the entire picture has because otherwise, before you know it, you are going back into all the classical problems: objects in a tactile space. Also, a picture isn’t abstract just because the artist doesn’t know when it’s finished. Pollock’s message wasn’t “Go Wild”; it was 1) keep the field even and without dominant image or incident; 2) be careful about color; 3) keep the space as free from the space needed to depict three-dimensional forms as possible; 4) eliminate gesture, let the method chosen seem to generate the picture. If the whole picture is working right, accidents and inconsistent details don’t matter any more than handprints and cigarette butts; there can be mistakes, awkward stretcher bars, even drips.

The main criticism of the pictures seems to have been that they had nothing to say.

The great irony that comes in here is this: all the while that Stella is pursuing, with ferocious single-mindedness, the idea of the completely consistent non-referential abstract painting, artists like Carl Andre and Don Judd are being absolutely fascinated with the literal objectness of Stella’s paintings. Andre, who was very close to Stella in the early sixties, seems to have been the first to draw the conclusion that almost all the literalist artists were to come to: if the best painting was moving inevitably toward three dimensions, then the best hope for a true post-Pollock abstraction may lie in three-dimensional art. The incipient move into three dimensions implied in Stella’s paintings is made manifestly clear in Andre’s work of the early sixties, most explicitly in a work like the 1959–60 untitled construction. Judd, too, made works which seemed to spell out the three-dimensional implications of Stella’s work. Both artists seemed to share what can be called a fundamental presumption of literalism: if one has moved into three dimensions because that seems to be where the best abstract art can take form, then there is no sense in making art in three dimensions that tries to approximate the sensations or appearances of two dimensions. On the contrary, the more three-dimensionality is affirmed, acknowledged, declared, explored, the more powerful the work of art can be. One of the ways in which this is done, for Judd, is in the employment of simple orders. Writing in 1965, Judd remarked, “Stella’s shaped paintings involve several important characteristics of three-dimensional work,” and he goes on to list them. Among the things he lists is the order of the stripes, which he calls “simply order, like that of continuity, one thing after another.” Stacking is such an order, simple progressions another. Andre depends heavily on orders which, as often as possible, correspond to the way in which materials are used in the literal world, common orders, one thing beside another, like a row of bricks. Almost all the literalist imperatives come from the need to explicitly acknowledge three-dimensionality: structural clarity, everyday materials, directness of relations with materials.

The differences between Andre and Judd emerged slowly and steadily all through the sixties; Andre was to consistently limit himself to solutions that were respectful of, and consonant with, the problems of sculpture, while Judd’s indifference to sculpture and its problems would become more obvious every day. Both artists got better and better. Criticism might have focused on this and life for both men might have been, if not easier, at least a little more dignified. Instead, both got washed into the mud slide called “Minimal art,” or ABC art, or Primary Structures, and found themselves part of a “movement” that included work as utterly extraneous to their interests as Larry Bell’s glass boxes, Tony Smith’s architectural abstractions, Robert Morris’s psychology-oriented constructions. (Judd’s protesting voice, utterly lost in the ballyhoo, can be picked up in the catalog of “Primary Structures”: “I object to several popular ideas . . . ”)

The Minimal art craze set everyone back for years; the job of criticism now would seem to be to patiently undo the damage and carefully begin the work of revealing the development of a literalist art in America which extends quite unbrokenly from about 1959 to the present and which, in one way or another, involves in its network at least part of the work of artists as diverse as Andre, Judd, Flavin, Serra, Heizer, Morris, Smithson, Sonnier, Nauman, Saret and undoubtedly many others including, for example, early Poons and early Ron Davis. It is a development which cannot be contained in categories like minimal, reductive, anti-form, process or anti-illusion, and museums, rushing to organize exhibitions around such “themes” are, as usual, doing more damage than they can imagine.

The abstractionist critics—mainly Clement Greenberg, then Michael Fried, William Rubin and others in greater or lesser degree—had, by the mid-sixties, done monumental work. They had turned the stampede toward a second-rate, imitative gestural painting (“Tenth Street”) and re-directed the eyes of the art world to where the quality really was coming from: Louis, Newman, Noland, Olitski, Stella, Kelly, Frankenthaler, David Smith and Caro. (Don Judd’s critical writing in many cases made similar judgments, but from an utterly different point of view.) In the development of literalism, however, abstractionist criticism has figured hardly at all: to the extent that the abstractionist critics considered it at all, they condemned it. (No critics of the quality of the best abstractionist critics came forward to champion or explain the literalist development, and this may account for the fact that the literalist artists do a lot more of their own writing than had been customary.)

Abstractionist criticism tended to ignore the literalists except when it had to deal with Stella. Noland and Olitski, for example, worked as if literalism never existed; they were years older and seem to have felt no compulsion to engage with it. But literalism was being made by Stella’s friends and contemporaries and it was palpably clear that on one level or another Stella was engaged with it, even, perhaps, against his will, certainly against his explicit convictions about where quality in contemporary art lay. So in dealing with Stella abstractionist criticism had either to condemn him for seeming to be inextricably mixed up with artists like Judd and Andre and Flavin and those others, or it had to somehow disassociate him from them. In the latter case, the line was always that the literalists misunderstood Stella. (In Mr. Rubin’s text they seem to be misunderstanding him on every page.)

Stella’s statements often seem to back up this interpretation, but they are never really on all fours with it. It always seems, in reading his remarks, that his objections are not so much to a misunderstanding of his work but to the fact that the implications being extracted from his work are not leading to art that he can believe in with the absolute assurance with which he accepts the art of Noland or of Caro; it is as if he feels that better work should somehow have come out of literalism, and that if it had he would certainly have a lot fewer problems than he has. He has certainly never made the moves in his own work which would disassociate him from his literalist contemporaries (as, for example, Poons has done, and Ron Davis), and this perhaps out of a deep instinct for what it is that makes his work so central to ambitious art. For it is precisely Stella’s ambivalence about the literalist implications of his own paintings that is fundamental to what he is all about. It is why every move he makes is followed with such intense interest by other artists; his own love-hate relationship with literalism is an issue which arises in their studios every day. It is the source of his direct relevance to almost all the serious art that is being made today, and it is why his retrospective has a seriousness to it, a timeliness that few others have had. His shows just get looked at with harder eyes and tougher minds, because, for almost everyone, taking Stella’s measure is more important, somehow, than taking anyone else’s.

Judd’s reading of the implications of Stella’s striped paintings must have been argued over by Stella and his friends hundreds of times in the years between 1960 and 1965, and though Stella, in his commitment to the esthetics of abstraction, has openly repudiated it, he has never done so completely, and never without some amount of duplicity. It is Stella’s ambivalence and humor, therefore, that gives the flavor of high comedy to Mr. Rubin’s account of the famous “thick-stretcher” controversy:

_In New York City, Stella began to increase the size of his box-and-stripe pictures. He stretched the cotton duck over 1 x 3’s which he butt-ended together. This method, used for reasons of economy, produced an approximately 3-inch-deep stretcher that set the picture more clearly off from the wall. Stella soon found this deep stretcher to his taste aesthetically and has retained the device. Given the flatness of his painting, there was always the possibility that the plane of the picture might be assimilated to the wall. The deep stretchers, he has remarked, “lifted the pictures off the wall surface so that they didn’t fade into it as much. They created a bit of shadow and you knew that the painting was another surface. It seemed to me to actually accentuate the surface quality—to enhance the two-dimensionality of the painting’s surface.”

In view of Stella’s eschewal of pictorial allusions to anything outside the painting itself—or even of illusionist references to the space of that extra-pictorial world—it was inevitable that the deep stretcher would focus attention on the picture as an object. And, indeed, that objective sense of the surface reinforced the anti-illusionist flatness. But in popular criticism the awareness of the object nature of the picture led in time to loose theorizing—on the level of what Meyer Schapiro has called “night-school metaphysics”—about the concreteness or objectness of the paintings. This kind of theorizing later played a role in the “justification” of Minimal art, and Stella feels it has turned into cant. “It’s a little bit my own fault. I didn’t mean it to be that way. I used to say that, after all, a painting is only an object—not meaning that it’s just any object. It is a special kind of object—one that’s intended to be a painting. My position was a reaction to the high-flown rhetoric of the fifties, but my reasoning got . . . abbreviated.” In this regard, the net effect of the deep stretcher, Stella has observed, is that “it makes the picture more like a painting and less like an object by stressing the surface.”

Mr. Rubin is anxious to save Stella for abstraction and disassociate him from what he calls “Minimal art.” It thus becomes perfectly logical, for him, that an extra-deep stretcher enhances the two-dimensionality of the picture surface, while it is only in grubby night schools that the addition of depth to height and width makes an object more three-dimensional. What then is Stella really liking about the effect of that deep stretcher? It is the object quality they give the picture, and if he does not say so it would seem to be again because of his hesitation about the ultimate quality of any literalist innovation, even his own. Mr. Rubin is a little too offhand in remarking that Stella “retained the device,” as if it were a matter of no consequence. In fact Stella didn’t merely “retain” the deep stretcher—he made it even deeper. Some more of that “loose theorizing” turned on the observation that the deep stretcher was roughly as deep as the width of the painted bands, thus providing a very literal module for them. Loudly did Stella protest this reading, but in the 1966 series, which used a much wider band, the stretcher, by coincidence, also widened, from three to four inches.

Some of Stella’s anti-literalist utterances are extreme, but, to my mind at least, they are never as extreme as they appear to Mr. Rubin. “The sculptors just scanned the organization of painting and made sculpture out of it. It was a bad reading of painting . . .” The statement seems damning enough, but Stella is a complicated artist and probably an even more complicated man, and Mr. Rubin’s haste in snaring the quotation and using it to justify writing off “minimal sculpture” altogether, completely overlooks the ambivalence that has always marked Stella’s attitude. “Misreading his enterprise,” Mr. Rubin writes:

some sculptors saw his shaped canvases as pointing ineluctably to their three-dimensional art. To that extent, the historical position of minimal sculpture is more of a tangential offshoot of late fifties abstract painting than it is a continuation of the main line of sculptural development that passed through David Smith.

Stella would probably not be so quick with that “misreading his enterprise” business, especially as applied to artists who were, after all, friends and contemporaries. It is Andre who writes the catalog statement for Stella in “Sixteen Americans” (and who still likes to insouciantly identify himself as “student of Stella”), and it is alongside Judd that he defends sixties art in a well-known interview. If fellow artists who know you that well are misreading your enterprise so badly, then either you have pretty dumb friends or maybe they’re not misreading it so badly after all. In any event, there is no misreading Mr. Rubin’s enterprise: he is anxious to get Frank Stella as far from those “Minimalists” as he can get him.3

By the middle sixties almost all of Stella’s contemporaries in New York were dealing with literalist issues in one way or another. In three dimensions, literalism was rapidly discovering that earlier blanket strictures against illusionism of any kind was too restrictive an attitude: materials themselves were making that clear enough. Some materials simply led one into certain kinds of illusionism—mirrors, plexiglass, various kinds of perforated metal, fluorescent light. (By the end of the decade materials would have provided literalism with ways of drawing, with compositional relations, with fantasy, with poetry, and all in ways perfectly consistent with the most deep-rooted literalist convictions.)

Stella’s 1966 series—sometimes called the Wolfeboro or Moultonboro series and in the catalog text called the Irregular Polygons—is one which Michael Fried thought ought to have been “unpalatable to literalist sensibility,” partly because of the incipient illusionism which Stella permitted in them. But it is interesting to compare the series with what Judd liked about the stripe paintings:

Stella’s shaped paintings involve several important characteristics of three-dimensional work. The periphery of a piece and the lines inside correspond. The stripes are nowhere near being discrete parts. The surface is farther from the wall than usual, though it remains parallel to it. Since the surface is exceptionally unified and involves little or no space, the parallel plane is unusually distinct. The order is not rationalistic and underlying, but is simply order, like that of continuity, one thing after another. A painting isn’t an image. The shapes, the unity, projection, order and color are specific, aggressive and powerful.

The periphery of the Irregular Polygons and the lines inside correspond; the surface is even farther from the wall than previously; the order of the painting is not rationalistic and underlying but is simply order, like the order of a map, and, like a map, is not an image but a unity of shapes whose projection, order and color are specific, aggressive, and powerful. Certainly, the paintings were a little “soft on illusionism,” but illusionism, as Ron Davis was shortly to make even clearer, wasn’t the issue in 1966 that it was in 1961. The illusionism in the Irregular Polygons didn’t bother anybody. The pictures affirmed their objecthood in as straightforward a way as any of his pictures had before.

Without a doubt, the main ambitions of the pictures were not related to literalism or to the issue of objecthood any more than were the main ambitions of the stripe pictures. In the Irregular Polygons these ambitions seem to have had more to do with getting to use color in a way not previously available to Stella; the very fact that they needed color as they did pointed to a growing conviction that a high post-Pollock abstract art founded on structure alone could not be carried further than Stella had already carried it. (“The sense of singleness . . . has a better future outside of painting,” Judd had written the year before.)4 A second ambition, obvious in the blitzkrieg manner of Stella’s attack (who ever thought of making paintings with shapes like that?), was to raid the shaped canvas and convert it into what would be, for the next while at least, virtual private property. But in the course of accomplishing these ambitions Stella had given a whole lease on life to literalist painting.5

By 1966 Stella had been under the gun for five years. In the Irregular Polygons he accomplished a major change of style without having to give an inch of his position in the center of advanced art in New York and without managing to repudiate any of the meanings which literalism attached to his work. The strain shows in the paintings, many of them the most explicitly violent Stella has ever made. Forms interpenetrate as if by naked force; spiked, sharp edges abound; colors often verge on the hysterical. It is astonishing that even as these paintings are being made the vision of a monumental decorative muralism is taking form in the artist’s mind.

As the sixties drew to a close, the relationship between literalism and abstraction in American art changed considerably. When the decade opened, both literalism and abstraction shared the ambition to make the most advanced abstract art it was possible to make after Pollock. As the decade came to an end it was clear that within literalism several tendencies had emerged and the issue of whether the goal of art making was still high abstraction was no longer one on which everyone agreed. The move into three dimensions led further than anyone had anticipated; the interest in materials led to orders and applications vastly more complex than anyone had dreamed. Literalism was encompassing acts and arrangements unthinkable seven or eight years before and artists were making choices which had no sanction as certain, say, as Pollock had granted to the work of the early sixties. Sanction for many of the undertakings of these artists was sought—if it was sought at all—in traditions much older than Modernism, and in this many of the literalist artists of the late sixties resemble the emerging Abstract Expressionists of the mid-forties. For both, the sense of a new beginning was overwhelming; for both the idea of what to do as artists was up for grabs; for both uncertainty, especially as it pertains to their relationship to the tradition of modern art—and not merely the plastic tradition but the social and economic traditions of museums, dealers, collections and collectors—is the fundamental condition of their creative lives.

Stella’s relationship to the literalism of the late sixties is not crucial; no critic need worry about disassociating the Protractor series on which Stella commenced work in 1967 from Morris, Smithson, Heizer or Sonnier, for example. Even his ten-year dialogue with Judd has quieted to matters like the casual salute to the stacked boxes in the design of a painting like Tahkt-I-Sulayman II. And, like literalism itself, his relationship with abstraction, by the end of the sixties, is not that critical either. It is as if the demands of a monumental mural decoration could be, and have been, engaged without reference, or without strident reference, to the two esthetic attitudes which had hitherto governed the making of high art in his time. Stella’s most recent series, therefore, is in a sense outside the scope of this article, or at least seems to be at this time.

This might be just as well, since the exhibition contains only eight of the 100-odd works Stella has made in this series since 1967. Accurate analysis awaits a large exhibition of these paintings alone, one in which Stella’s various moves, both successes and failures, can be sorted out and evaluated. The limitation to eight works in the exhibition is undoubtedly a function of mechanical requirements (space, mostly) and balance (though the series, chronologically, does take up a third of Stella’s mature career). It also, I suspect, reflects Mr. Rubin’s own uncertainties regarding the series. The catalog text worries a lot about the pictures—it worries about a certain loss of structural consistency in some of them; it worries about the introduction of certain illusions; it worries about the introduction of a kind of figure-ground relation in some of them.

The new pictures suggest that Pollock’s role as a mediator between mural and easel painting did not so much derive from the size and scale of his large pictures, as from their decorativeness. At least one direction implicit in Pollock, therefore, was the possibility of accepting and acknowledging the decorative implications of abstraction instead of avoiding or denying them (the usual reaction to the charge of “wallpaper” is to have a fit). The risks were great—an apparent loss of seriousness, a sense of being lightweight—but success could open to abstract art an area of vast possibilities. For Stella, working with large shaped canvases which tended more and more to look as if they were made for specific architectural settings, the vision of a high-level decorative art not only dovetailed with perfect logic with where he had arrived after the Irregular Polygon series, but also represented itself as a continuation of a main implication in Pollock.6

But the character of the artist! Of all the artists in America who might have decided to risk the possibilities of letting loose the decorative id beneath the abstractionist ego, Stella was surely the least likely. The identity he had declared, the identity he had imposed on American culture, was coiled, tense, arrogant, lean, ungenerous, unremittingly rational, self-denying and unsensuous. From whence was to come the openness, generosity, spontaneity, lyricism which an art of freely accepted decorativeness was to be made?

In the light of the most recent paintings in the exhibition (which, it must be emphasized, is not as good a light as a large-scale exhibition of these works would be) it would seem that the beginning of the series was marked by the strain of a kind of mental and emotional “re-tooling.” The earliest paintings in the series held tensely to very simple and prominently declared all-over design structures—which Stella has designated as interlaces, fans and rainbows—within which an extensive range of colors was employed. The design structures corresponded sometimes rigorously, sometimes less consistently, to the overall shape of the canvas, which was architectural and muralistic and which was by far the most radical aspect of the paintings. In other words, Stella, during this early period, found himself relying on what he had always relied on: a bold picture shape and an aggressive all-over design structure. The amount of freedom given to color is greater than in the past, but it is apparent throughout that he is depending on what he has always depended on to deliver the picture with force and cogency. Most interesting of all, however, is the lingering harshness, even some traces of the pictorial violence of the Irregular Polygons. It would appear that Stella would be deep into the series before a genuine lyricism would be freed, and good criticism can look forward to sorting out the steps Stella had to take to achieve it.

Certainly by 1969 and 1970, Stella had thoroughly loosened the overall design structure and seems to have systematically turned more and more of the authority of the paintings over to color. Pictures like Ile a la Crosse II and its companions have an expansiveness of decorative grandeur which bursts upon us like the interior of the Guggenheim Museum, triumphs of sheer confidence. In pictures like these, the identity we all share in Stella’s art as our art, the art of our time, is deepened, broadened, and made, of all things, joyous.

Philip Leider



1. And is still emerging. See Robert Morris’s article in this issue.

2. Art News, for example, went into shock. In writing up “Sixteen Americans” Stella’s name wasn’t even mentioned.

3. The case for Stella as an abstractionist artist with a special and profound relation to literalism is movingly made by Michael Fried in his essay, “Shape As Form.” That I don't use the word “literalism” as he does in that essay, or in his later essay, “Art and Objecthood,” should not obscure the fact that it, as well as the whole frame of reference of this article, comes out of his criticism.

4. All the Judd quotations are from “Specific Objects,” Arts Yearbook, 1965.

5. Only four of the Irregular Polygons are in the exhibition, which seems to me very unfortunate. Those pictures get better all the time, and a larger viewing of them would have been a revelation.

6. Another view of muralism and its problems is in Sidney Tillim’s “Scale and the Future of Modernism,” Artforum, October, 1967. Stella dealt with this essay explicitly in a lecture given in Chicago in 1968.