New York

Helen Soreff

Bertha Urdang Gallery

The laws of Stella’s Black paintings have been working within uninspired abstract painting since 1960. Working from a dead end. Stella knew this, or he wouldn’t so desparately try anything, even confusion, to escape its consequences. Stella had just one idea, but what his countless progeny forget is that he didn’t have one format. Ideas are fine in art, but in visual art, it is the way the idea is shown to us that carries the day. The visualness of Stella’s repeated stripes exhibited a certain kind of force and power; we shouldn’t forget, however, how banal the idea really was. Stella’s idea—his stroke of genius—was to magnify Johns and Newman’s procedures; it is his descendants’ folly to belittle them.

If you take away the scale and impressive bleakness of the Black paintings, if you empty out their originative status and use them 25 years later without intervening, critical reflection,

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