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PRINT May 1974

Just Another Rectangle Painter

The art world will simply not accept

another rectangle painter.


—a New York artist

HE'D LAY DOWN THE FIRST GRID with masking tape, hit the surface with stainy acrylic, lay down more tape, paint into that, lay down more tape, more paint, and so on. When at last he peeled an almost solid sheet of masking tape from the canvas, there it was: a 36-part grid with nuances of edge, layer, and bleed. But it occurred to Joel Bass that just four parts—the elemental grid—could function as well as three dozen; so he narrowed it down and, in 1969–70, arrived at his “trademark” colored grid. Bass had been a well-off kid before art school, who drove a ’58 Thunderbird to high school in 1958, tramped up and down the California coast eating five-for-a-dollar hamburgers, peeing in trash cans, and lying in wait on his balsa spear for the next big wave; he was not the guy who came in from the boondocks and hit

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