“Frank Stella 1958”

Harvard Art Museums

“FRANK STELLA 1958” is a prequel. It extracts twenty-one works, some rarely or never before exhibited, from the genetic soup of a remarkable evolution. Your degree of interest may hinge on how invested you are in the outcome: 1959, the “Black Paintings.” Viewing Stella’s brightly striped canvases from 1958, it’s hard to avoid mental comparison with the absent dark ones. But life doesn’t conform to the calendar, and Stella was making “Black Paintings” toward the end of his evolutionary year of color. It remains a matter of discrimination, both aesthetic and critical, as to what’s black (the pigment) and what’s “Black” (intended to appear achromatic). Depending on your visual sensitivity to chroma, as well as the rigidity or looseness of your intellectual categories, you will find at least one “Black,” Morro Castle, perhaps a second, Delta, and maybe a third, Criss Cross, among the works

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