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FRANK

STELLA
IRREGULAR POLYGONS1965–66
APRIL 8–JULY 24
2011
CANADAY GALLERY
A GUIDE TO THE EXHIBITION
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Use this Guide in the Exhibition
The 11 monumental paintings in the Irregular Polygons series are
presented without explanatory labels in order for the works to have
the maximum visual impact without distraction.
This guide is provided as your own set of portable labels. The text
is excerpted and adapted from the exhibition’s catalogue written by Brian
Kennedy, curator of the exhibition and President, Director, and CEO of the
Toledo Museum of Art.*
Because Frank Stella’s abstract art engages so essentially with the basic
elements and principles of art and design, the text also highlights
these fundamentals.
Other resources provided in the exhibition include:
º A .|dec e/:e|p| c| ||a¤| S|e||a ||cr Painters Painting: The New York Art
Scene 1940–1970 (1973)
º V|dec c| T|A d||e:|c| B||a¤ |e¤¤ed] |a|||¤ç aocu| ||e Irregular Polygons
º A |ar||] 0u|de |c |e|p pa|e¤|º a¤d :|||d|e¤ |cc| a| :c|c|, ||¤e, a¤d º|ape
in Frank Stella’s abstract art
º A¤ 'a:||.||] a|ea' W|e|e .|º||c|º c| a|| açeº :a¤ W|||e pcerº, d|aW ||e||
own irregular polygons, create irregular polygons using magnetic shapes,
and read more about Frank Stella and abstract art
Please do not touch the works of art.
Frank Stella: Irregular Polygons was curated by TMA Director Brian Kennedy, while he was director
at the Hood Museum of Art, and organized by the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College. Special
exhibitions supported in part by the generous members of the Toledo Museum of Art and the Ohio
Arts Council.
p 5 Chocorua IV
p 6 Conway I
p 7 Effingham IV
p 9 Moultonville II
p 10 Ossipee II
p 12 Sunapee II
p 13 Tuftonboro III
p 14 Union I
p 15 Wolfeboro IV
p 8 Moultonboro II
p 11 Sanbornville III
The paintings in this guide are arranged alphabetically by title.
4 5
Frank Stella: Irregular Polygons
When presenting Frank Stella with the National Medal of the Arts on
February 25, 2010, President Barack Obama described the renowned
aoº||a:| a|||º| aº 'a |eçe¤d |c| ||º a::crp||º|re¤|º aº c¤e c| ||e
world’s most innovative painters and sculptors. His sophisticated visual
experiments—often transcending boundaries between painting, print
ra||¤ç, a¤d º:u|p|u|e-a|e rcde|¤ raº|e|p|e:eº.'
Since he first burst on the New York art scene in 1958, Frank Stella
(American, born 1936) has had a long and prolific career at the forefront
of abstract art. A consistent innovator who prefers to produce works in
series, he has immersed himself in visual thinking and creating, according
|c :e||a|¤ |e] a|||º||: p||¤:|p|eº. '||¤e, p|a¤e, .c|ure a¤d pc|¤|, |¤ ºpa:e.'
The Irregular Polygons series of 1965–66 is startlingly dramatic and
original. Although based on simple geometries, these paintings comprise
one of the most complex artistic statements of Stella’s career. Each of the
11 compositions combines varying numbers of shapes to create daringly
irregular outlines. Stella made four versions of each composition, altering
their color combinations. These asymmetrical canvases play with illusion,
confronting Stella’s previous emphasis on flatness while anticipating his
career-long exploration of space and volume in both painting and sculpture.
Along with the 11 Irregular Polygons—each of which is named for a small
town in New Hampshire where Stella’s father took him on fishing trips as a
young boy—this exhibition includes preparatory drawings for the paintings
and the print series Eccentric Polygons (1974), which was based on the
Irregular Polygons.
Shown here together for the first time in the same room, the Irregular
Polygons c||e| a¤ e/:|||¤ç cppc||u¤||] |c e¤çaçe W||| ||e ':crp|e/
º|rp||:||]' ||a| |º ||e pa|adc/ c| S|e||a'º a||.
Chocorua I Chocorua III
Chocorua II
Chocorua IV
1966
Fluorescent alkyd and
epoxy paints on canvas
“There’s a very shallow type of illusion going on in Chocorua. But
once you’re committed to doing this in three-dimensions, then it
really would be a pyramid inside a cube.” Frank Stella
The central theme of the Irregular Polygons series is the relationship of
shapes, which interpenetrate, interlock with, and butt up against each
other. Because the abutting or impinging shapes do not overlap (except in
Sanbornville; see p. 10), the illusion of depth is caused mainly by the value
differentiation of the colors.
By mitering the lightning-like band that cushions the triangle, Stella
reinforces the square’s ability to contain the triangle, rather than appear
to be trying to eject it. (Picture the band without the mitered corners and
imagine how that would change the composition.)
Stella associates the triangle in Chocorua with Mount Chocorua in the White
Mountains of New Hampshire. When he began working on the Irregular
Polygons, '||e] We|e ºc |rred|a|e|] |a¤dº:ape a¤d rcu¤|a|¤cuº,' that he
decided to name them after places he had visited with his father during his
boyhood.
Space, one of the elements of art, is the area around or within
objects. In a two-dimensional image space refers to the arrangement of
components on the surface. The illusion of depth of space may be created
in two-dimensions by various means, including overlapping, proportion,
and color values.
6 7
Conway II Conway IV Conway III
Conway I
1966
Fluorescent alkyd and
epoxy paints on canvas
A notch at Conway in the White Mountains was a favorite fishing place for
Frank Stella while on childhood vacations with his father.
1
In the painting
named for this location, a parallelogram is locked into and supporting a
rectangle, creating a diagonal, left-to-right movement.
“What I had in mind was a swinging mirror in my mother’s bedroom.
This was a rectangular mirror mounted on two pieces of wood with
pivots.”
2
Frank Stella
If Stella had adopted the furniture reference literally, the mirror (the
parallelogram) would have been above its bureau (the rectangle). He has
confirmed since that he preferred the composition with the parallelogram
below.
The eight-inch-wide stripe used in all of the Irregular Polygons is especially
pronounced in Conway, because it wraps around the base and left side but
does not extend into the interior. There, another band of a different color
completes the border around the parallelogram. This causes the shape to
appear to swivel.
Movement is a principle of design. It refers to the way shapes, lines,
colors, and forms direct the eye around a composition or interact with each
other to suggest motion. Diagonals often create a sense of movement
in art.
E|l|¸|I| l E|l|¸|I| lll E|l|¸|I| ll
Effingham IV
1966
Fluorescent alkyd and
epoxy paints on canvas
The shapes in Effingham butt up against each other rather than interlock.
The interior band, however, is itself interlocking, such that the painting, in
Stella’s words, 'W|¤dº up ||º cW¤ ºp||¤ç. || :u||º c¤ ||ºe||.'
1
The composition
is complicated because:
“…the larger shape could propel the parallelogram out. The large
shape secures the smaller one by wrapping its band around it. It
is in equilibrium and the smaller shape is under tension. But the
smaller shape supports the larger one, so it will not fall off. The
painting is up in the air, and the large shape needs the smaller one
to hold it up.”
2

Art historian Michael Fried described the effect of the open top of Effingham
(W|||cu| a oc|de||¤ç oa¤d, aº |a.|¤ç 'a¤ aº|c¤|º||¤ç .e|||:a| a::e|e|a||c¤,
c| ºca||¤ç, c| |e|eaºe.'
3

Balance is one of the principles of design and relates to the sense
of visual equilibrium in a work of art. Balance can be symmetrical or
asymmetrical, but depends on how elements of varying visual weights or
sizes in an image are arranged around a fulcrum point. In the quotation
above, Stella explains the interdependence of the two shapes. Where do
you see balance in this connection?
8 9
Destroyed
ŝŶĂĮƌĞ
Moultonboro I Moultonboro IV Moultonboro III
Moultonboro II
1966
Fluorescent alkyd and
epoxy paints on canvas
Moultonboro features a triangle wedged into the top right corner of a shape
that the viewer’s eye may or may not complete as a rectangle. The triangle
fits into a Z-like band. 'T||º çeº|u|e, ||e Z, |aº |c oe ºepa|a|ed ºc ||a| ||
dceº¤'| |u¤ |¤|c e|||e| ||e oa:|ç|cu¤d c| ||e c||e| p|e:e,' Stella explains.
1
Each shape had to be distinct, and Stella achieved this via the wide Z
banding but also the fine white line of raw canvas on either side of it.
“I always leave a space, because I don’t want the confusion of
shapes. I want the independence of each unit, so it has white
on each side. It is painted independently. Each item is doubly
independent. Nothing touches each other.”
2

The triangle can be read as tilting, slanting, or sloping from the picture
plane (the flat surface of the painting). Critic Rosalind Krauss remarked on
the spatial ambiguity in the Irregular Polygons |¤ 19OO. 'T||º |º ||e |||uº|c¤
||a| ||e p|:|u|eº a|e |c|d|¤ç c| ou:|||¤ç.|¤|c |||ee-d|re¤º|c¤a| coje:|º.'
3

The effect is compounded by the changes in value :auºed o] ||e Oa]0|c
fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paint surfaces, which make the colored shapes
appear lighter or darker as the viewer moves before the painting.
Value, one of the elements of art and an aspect of color, is the degree of
lightness or darkness in an image. When colors are close in value, shapes
appear to flatten and to be closely connected in space. If values contrast,
shapes appear to be separated in space and some stand out, seeming to
project or recede.
Moultonville I Moultonville IV Moultonville III
Moultonville II
1966
Fluorescent alkyd and
epoxy paints on canvas
“Moultonville sits in a way. It’s kind of nice, and it has a base, a
wedge at the top and this spring band to the right that holds the
Z band in place. The wedge sits on top of the field and props up
the background and the rectangular figure. The rectangle is locked
in—well, or you could say it’s sitting there—but it depends on
which color version of the picture.”
1
Frank Stella
The 44 paintings in the Irregular Polygons series forced Stella to find some
help with moving the large stretchers, preparing the paints, putting down
masking tape, and applying four coats of paint. If a color was not working
well with the others in a given painting, Stella would change it, requiring
even more coats of paint. This was why, for the first time, he hired an
aºº|º|a¤|, ||e pa|¤|e| Rcoe|| 'Bco' 0c|dc¤.
2

The decision to make four versions of each design was capricious:
“It’s just the number I thought I’d like to have. If I don’t like the way
one comes out, I can go on to the next one. And it also gives me
something to work against … it doesn’t matter if the first painting
of each shape is good or bad—it gives me a start. If I see in it
something that I don’t like—it’s still something to react against,
and it sets the way I’ll go with the next few pictures.”
3

Color, an element of art, refers to the full visible light spectrum (rainbow)
and black and white, plus all possible combinations therein. Stella’s interest
color relationships and their effect on the relationships between shapes is
evident in the four versions of each of the Irregular Polygons’ titles, which
differ only in their color combinations.
10 11
Ossipee I Ossipee IV Ossipee III
Ossipee II
1966
Fluorescent alkyd and
epoxy paints on canvas
Although Frank Stella has said that he named the Irregular Polygons after
small towns in New Hampshire because they reminded him of mountains,
Ossipee has especially personal associations. The painting evokes a
building rather than a mountain, and Stella acknowledges, 'T||º |º a :ao|¤
c¤ ||e º|de c| a ||||.'
1
Stella in fact fished with his father at a family vacation
home in the White Mountains town of Ossipee during his youth. The home
at Ossipee is still owned by Stella’s family.
The Irregular Polygons share the continual challenge of all abstraction,
Stella says:
“The problem is always couched in the proposition of abstraction
as some kind of remedial or representational figuration. So this
abstract form behaves the way that this could be a person. You
could have the Empress’s portrait in the pentagon of Ossipee, and
it would be a good painting actually. Abstract art always struggles
with what representation has, that it’s flat and has the mechanics
for representing illusion and it works. The background for these
pieces, the landscape or architecture or whatever it was, we don’t
see it, so it becomes unfamiliar.”
2
Texture is one of the elements of art and refers to the tactile quality
c| a¤ coje:|. Va||a||c¤º c| |ea| c| pe|:e|.ed |e/|u|e W||||¤ a Wc|| c| a||
can add interest or variety and can have a subtle effect on the relationship
between shapes and forms. Stella’s Irregular Polygons use smooth epoxy
and fluorescent paints, but also utilize the rough texture of the canvas itself.
Sanbornville I Sanbornville IV Sanbornville II
Sanbornville III
1966
Fluorescent alkyd and
epoxy paints on canvas
Discussing the Irregular Polygons in 1966, art historian Michael Fried wrote
aocu| ||e d|º||¤:||c¤ oe|Wee¤ a pa|¤||¤ç'º '|||e|a|' º|ape (||e cu|||¤e c| ||º
ºuppc||, a¤d ||º 'dep|:|ed' º|ape (||e cu|||¤eº c| ||e e|ere¤|º |¤ ||e p|:|u|e,.
1

The distinction is most easily seen in Sanbornville. The composition, which
places a triangle and a parallelogram within an overall irregular shape,
differs from the other Irregular Polygons in that the triangle is imposed
upon it. In all of the other compositions, each shape is necessary to the
task of holding the composition together, but the triangle in Sanbornville is
an applied, depicted shape.
Another feature unique to Sanbornville is that the triangle has a double
border. This causes it to play a visual game with the parallelogram (which
is of equal height) that creates an illusion of back-and-forth movement.
The balance of the shapes in the composition is somewhat precarious,
and the composition relies on the colors applied to it for stability. As Stella
remarked:
“There are abstract problems that don’t lend themselves to easy
solutions, but it’s obvious that I am doing a double thing. I am
trying to work with a parallelogram and a triangle in one situation,
but that’s probably not a particularly good way to work at it. It’s
almost better upside down.”
2

Shape, one of the elements of art, is an enclosed area defined by other
elements of art, such as line or color. Two-dimensional shapes can give the
appearance of three-dimensional objects. The central concern of Stella’s
Irregular Polygons is the interplay of shapes.
12 13
Sunapee I Sunapee IV Sunapee III
Sunapee II
1966
Fluorescent alkyd and
epoxy paints on canvas
With its four shapes, Sunapee is the most complex composition among the
Irregular Polygons. As with Effingham (p. 7), Stella tried to outline much of
the exterior shape with a long colored band, but he admitted that it did not
work as well here. In fact, he thought about removing the colored block at
the top of the composition altogether: 'T|a|'º W|a| | p|coao|] Wcu|d |a.e
dc¤e, a¤d || r|ç|| |a.e oee¤ oe||e| a:|ua||]. | :cu|d dc || ¤cW.'
1
Along with
Wolfeboro (p. 15), Sunapee was the most problematic composition of the
Irregular Polygons for Stella.
The impetus for the next major shift in Stella’s career—his first wall
reliefs, the Polish Villages (1971–74)—was, he has said, “implied in the
irregular polygon canvases like Sunapee II (1966). I took that one
a long way, and I really liked it, but it didn’t quite go anywhere.
But then I bounced back a few years later, and it came out with a
whole new geometry. I basically built a painting and then painted
on it. That was essentially true from early on, when I was making
the shape paintings, but it didn’t really sink in.”
2
Composition is the arrangement of the elements of art in an image
according to the principles of design. A composition can be symmetrical
or asymmetrical and represents the artist’s deliberate ordering of the
picture. Stella constructed the Irregular Polygons on the core compositional
principle of asymmetry.
Tuftonboro I Tuftonboro IV Tuftonboro II
Tuftonboro III
1966
Fluorescent alkyd and
epoxy paints on canvas
The triangle in Tuftonboro, locked tightly into a notched larger irregular
shape, is a good example of why Stella argued that his Irregular Polygons
were not overly concerned with illusion but instead with the relationship
between shapes. If the larger shape is read as a background or field, then
the R-shaped band can seem to move backward and forward, with the
triangle tilting in the process.
“Tuftonboro is actually one of my favorites. The band is obviously
a spring and is going to propel the triangle out. The triangle is
pushing back, but the spring has the ability to push it out. So that
creates a nice feeling in the painting.”
1
Frank Stella
Stella explains why the mitering of the band and the open space at the
bottom of the painting are necessary:
“It’s pretty much a pictorial problem. The band holds the shape of
whatever kind of imagined rectangle this was, so I’ve got it holding
this triangle, but I don’t want to keep outlining indefi¬nitely, or I
lose this openness. The open space at the bottom and right side
allows you to get a sense of the triangle being pushed in, but also
having space to be able to go out of it. So there has to be an open
edge. And the mitered edge was a way of dealing with that to open
it up at the bottom.”
2
Line, an element of art, is a continuous mark with width and height, but
¤c dep||. ||¤e :a¤ cu|||¤e c| |rp|] º|ape, p|c.|de |e/|u|e c| .c|ure, c| ||e a
composition together. Stella uses thick lines, or bands, of color as essential
compositional elements in the Irregular Polygons.
14 15
Union II Union IV Union III
Union I
1966
Fluorescent alkyd and
epoxy paints on canvas
The color schemes used for the Union paintings were especially successful,
harmonious, and complementary. Union is also the most stable of the
Irregular Polygon compositions, a square plugged into the base of a
truncated rectangle. As in Sanbornville, the eight-inch banding stretches
around four of the five sides. This makes the depicted rectangular shape
more enclosed, the effect being to create a modernist-looking container.
|||e Conway, Union was inverted from its original design. Preparatory
drawings for Union show the broad open side now on top as the base of
the image. Stella was unhappy with the composition, however, because it
evoked a tabletop mountain or a Mayan temple. When the art dealer John
Kasmin saw the Union painting with its broad base in Stella’s studio, he
suggested that it would look better if turned upside down. Stella agreed and
inverted the painting.
1
“Failure is relative. And I don’t worry about taking risk. If something
is not beautiful, then I’m unhappy with it, and there are some
things that are certainly not beautiful, but they get by. But you’re
still striving for the ones that really feel beautiful in the end. And
so that’s what it’s about. The risk is committing yourself to try to
make art.”
2
Frank Stella
Unity is one of the principles of design. It is the overall coherence of
the composition—the way the parts work together to create a harmonious
whole. Underlying structure and color or shapes that complement each
other contribute to a unified picture.
Wolfeboro I Wolfeboro III Wolfeboro II
Wolfeboro IV
1966
Fluorescent alkyd and
epoxy paints on canvas
“The [Irregular Polygons] paintings are pretty frontal. I don’t see
twists in them. I want to see them flat. I see the planar ambiguities,
but I minimize them as much as I can. I feel that this is the right
way, the way I want to look at these pictures, and I feel that it is
possible to do this without forcing oneself to see the paintings in
a manner that really distorts them and their intentions.”
1
Frank
Stella
The Wolfeboro format, the tallest of the Irregular Polygons, has two irregular
shapes, one seated upon the other. They abut rather than penetrate each
other, and the larger one is lugged onto the trapezoid base. This truncated
rectangle acts like a keystone but also seems to tilt, because the band
above and to its left does not continue down the right side. Stella described
Wolfeboro and Sunapee (p. 12) as the most problematic compositions in
the series: 'Scre||reº ||e |c|r ||¤d c| º||º.' He was unhappy with the
tension between his decision to allow the upper shape in Wolfeboro to rest
a¤d ||º |¤|e|e¤| 'ºp||¤ç|¤eºº.'
2
Proportion is a principle of design that deals with the relative scale of
objects and shapes in an image to one another and to the viewer. Wolfeboro
contains two shapes, with the larger one placed on top of the smaller,
creating a deliberately disproportionate composition.
16 17
Elements and Principles of Art and Design
Composition is the arrangement of the elements of art in an image
according to the principles of design. It can be symmetrical or asymmetrical.
Elements of art (two-dimensional)
Line is a continuous mark with width and height, but no depth, made with
a moving point.
Shape is an enclosed area defined by other elements of art, such as line
or color.
Color is the full visible light spectrum (rainbow) and black and white, plus
all possible combinations therein. It has three part:
Hue is the name of the spectrum colors (red, blue, yellow, etc.)
Intensity is the purity of the color (e.g., how bright or dull it is)
Value is the degree of lightness or darkness of a color .
Texture refers to the tactile quality of an object, whether real or perceived.
Space is the area around or within objects; the arrangement of components
on the surface.
Principles of art and design
Emphasis is the point or points of focus in a composition—areas that
break the compositional rhythm.
Balance relates to the sense of visual equilibrium in a work of art—how
components of an image are arranged around a fulcrum point.
Harmony is the balanced use of similar elements throughout a work of art.
Variety is the use of different, often contrasting, elements that provide
visual and conceptual interest.
Movement refers to the way shapes, lines, colors, and forms direct the eye
around a composition or interact with each other to suggest motion.
Rhythm is the path along which the eye follows a regular or repeating
arrangement of motifs (such as shapes or colors) around a composition.
Proportion is the relative scale of objects and shapes in an image to one
another and to the viewer.
Unity is the overall coherence of the composition—the way the parts work
together to create a harmonious whole.
Biography
Frank Stella was born in 1936 in Malden Massachusetts and lives in New
York. He attended Phillips Academy, Andover, and Princeton University,
from which he graduated in 1958. That same year he first gained
|e:cç¤|||c¤ |¤ ||e a|| Wc||d W|e¤ ºe.e|a| c| ||º 'o|a:| pa|¤||¤çº' We|e
included in the exhibition Sixteen Americans at the Museum of Modern
Art, New York.
His consistent inventiveness has seen him make remarkable advances
in pictorial and sculptural tradition. By the mid-1960s, he was making
his powerfully influential shaped paintings, which he launched with his
aluminum paintings (1960) and then pursued further with the irregularly
shaped paintings known as the Irregular Polygons (1965–66). From
the 1970s onward, Stella has also explored the arts of sculpture and
printmaking. At the age of seventy-five, he continues to work assiduously
today, and his art can be seen in nearly all of the world’s major museums.
He is without doubt one of the most significant and influential artists of the
last half-century to work in the abstract tradition of painting, sculpture,
and printmaking.
||I|| S|º||I || ||: |ºW|u|¸|, |ºW Yu||, :|uJ|u W||| |.51 (¸|ºº| |u|||¸) I|J |.54 (||uº |u|||¸), |u|| 2JJo, ||u|
||: |ººº|| :º||º:, ||º Pu|]º||u|º Rº||º|:, Ap||| 2JJ9. P|u|u |] B||I| |º||ºJ].
18 19
Notes
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|º||ºJ], |ºW Yu||, |u1º||º| c, 2JJ9.
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1. B||| Ru|||, Frank Stella, 121.
2. ||I|| S|º||I || I p|u|º ºu|1º|:I||u| W|||
B||I| |º||ºJ], |I] 2J, 2J1J.
E||l|G|A| lV
1, 2. ||I|| S|º||I || I| |||º|1|ºW W||| B||I|
|º||ºJ], |ºW Yu||, |u1º||º| c, 2JJ9.
3. C|||:||I| Gºº||II|, Frank Stella: Working
Drawings, 195c¬19ïJ (BI:º|. |u|:||u:ºu|,
19oJ), 111¬12.
|0u|l0|B0R0 ll
1, 2. ||I|| S|º||I || I| |||º|1|ºW W||| B||I|
|º||ºJ], |ºW Yu||, |u1º||º| c, 2JJ9.
3. Ru:I|||J ||Iu::, ¨||I|| S|º||I, CI:|º|||
GI||º|], Artforum 4, |u. 9 (|I] 19cc). 4ï.
MOULTONVILLE II
1. ûI1|J Buu|Ju|, ¨A |ºW Cu| || A||. 0JJ|]
S|IpºJ CI|1I:º: |] ||I|| S|º||I C|I||º|¸º
V|ºWº|:, Life (1I|uI|] 19, 19co). 44.
2. ||I|| S|º||I || I| |||º|1|ºW W||| B||I|
|º||ºJ], |ºW Yu||, |u1º||º| c, 2JJ9.
3. ||I|| S|º||I || I p|u|º ºu|1º|:I||u| W|||
B||I| |º||ºJ], |I] 2J, 2J1J.
4. w||||I| S. Ru|||, Frank Stella (|ºW Yu||.
|u:ºu| u| |uJº|| A||, 19ïJ), 111.
0SSlPEE ll
1, 2. ||I|| S|º||I || I| |||º|1|ºW W||| B||I|
|º||ºJ], |ºW Yu||, |u1º||º| c, 2JJ9
SA|B0R|Vl||E lll
1. ||º|Iº| |||ºJ, ¨S|Ipº I: |u||. ||I||
S|º||I: |ºW PI|||||¸:, Artforum 5, |u. 3
(|u1º||º| 19cc)
2. ||I|| S|º||I || I| |||º|1|ºW W||| B||I|
|º||ºJ], |ºW Yu||, |u1º||º| c, 2JJ9.
Su|APEE ll
1, 2. ||I|| S|º||I || I| |||º|1|ºW W||| B||I|
|º||ºJ], |ºW Yu||, |u1º||º| c, 2JJ9.
lu|l0|B0R0 lll
1, 2. ||I|| S|º||I || I| |||º|1|ºW W||| B||I|
|º||ºJ], |ºW Yu||, |u1º||º| c, 2JJ9.
UNION I
1. l. 1. CI||||, ¨||I|| S|º||I. l|º |ºI1]Wº|¸||
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ï31 (0º|u|º| 1¬ï, 2JJ9).
2. ||I|| S|º||I || I| |||º|1|ºW W||| B||I|
|º||ºJ], |ºW Yu||, Ap||| 21, 2JJ9.
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1. w||||I| S. Ru|||, Frank Stella (|ºW Yu||.
|u:ºu| u| |uJº|| A||, 19ïJ), 124.
2. ||I|| S|º||I || I| |||º|1|ºW W||| B||I|
|º||ºJ], |ºW Yu||, |u1º||º| c, 2JJ9.
Credit lines for Paintings
A|| Wu||: © 2J11 ||I|| S|º||I / A|||:|: R|¸||:
Suº|º|] (ARS), |ºW Yu||
Cu1º|. Tuftonboro III, luu|º:ºº|| I||]J I|J ºpu/]
pI|||: u| ºI|1I:, 19cc. Cu||ºº||u| u| ||º I|||:|.
p. 5, |uuJ |u:ºu| u| A||, ûI|||uu||. Pu|º|I:ºJ
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u| B||I| |º||ºJ], û||ºº|u| u| ||º |uuJ |u:ºu| u|
A||, 2JJ5¬2J1J. P|u|u |] S|º1º| S|u|I|.
p. c, Cu||ºº||u| u| ||º I|||:|. P|u|u |] S|º1º|
S|u|I|.
p. ï, Cu||ºº||u| ||. I|J ||:. ûI1|J |||1|:|,
lu|u||u. P|u|u |] S|º1º| S|u|I|.
p. o, Cu||ºº||u| ||. I|J ||:. ûI1|J |||1|:|,
lu|u||u. P|u|u |] S|º1º| S|u|I|.
p. 9, Cu||ºº||u| ||. I|J ||:. ûI1|J |||1|:|,
lu|u||u. P|u|u |] S|º1º| S|u|I|.
p. 1J, A|| GI||º|] u| 0||I||u. G||| u| ||º |º|ºI|
|uu|JI||u|, 19cc.
p. 11, w||||º] |u:ºu| u| A|º||ºI| A||. G||| u|
1u:ºp| A. |º||I|, |ºW Yu||.
p. 12, Cu||ºº||u| u| ||º I|||:|.
p. 13, Cu||ºº||u| u| ||º I|||:|.
p. 14, ûº||u|| l|:|||u|º u| A||:. |uu|Jº|: Suº|º|]
Pu|º|I:º, |||º|J: u| |uJº|| A|| |u|J, cc.co.
p. 15, |||:||u|| |u:ºu| I|J Sºu|p|u|º GI|Jº|,
S||||:u||I| l|:|||u||u|. G||| u| 1u:ºp| |. |||:|-
|u||, 19ï2. P|u|u |] |ºº S|I|:Wu|||.
Plate Comparative Captions
Sanbornville I, 1J4 / 14c 4/5 / 4 ||. (2c4 / 3ï3
/ 1J.1c º|). |w|¬|I|Jº:|u:ºu| |J| |u|:|
u|J |u||u|¸º:º||º||º (wº:||I||:º|º:
|I|Jº:|u:ºu|). l|1. ||. 12ï5 ||.
Sanbornville II. P|º:º|| |uºI||u| u|||uW|.
Sanbornville IV, 1J4 1/2 / 144 / 4 ||. (2c5.4 /
3c5.o / 1J.1c º|). P|||IJº|p||I |u:ºu| u|
A||. G||| u| ||º |||º|J: u| ||º P|||IJº|p||I
|u:ºu| u| A||.
Sunapee I, 12ï 1/2 / 12J / 4 ||. (324.o5 /
3J4.o / 1J.1c º|). |u |º|u |uu|JI||u|, l|º
|º||º||I|J:, ºuu||º:] u| |u|º||I |uWI|J
GI||º|], |ºW Yu||.
Sunapee III, 12ï 5/o / 119 2/3 / 4 ||. (324.1ï /
3J3.95 / 1J.1c º|). Cuu||º:] VI| Jº wº¸|º
|||º A||, |ºW Yu||.
Sunapee IV, 12ï 1/2 / 12J / 4 ||. (324.o5 / 3J4.o
/ 1J.1c º|). ûI1|J w|||u| Bº|| GI||º|], B|uW|
u||1º|:||]. G||| u| ||º I|||:|.
Tuftonboro I, 1JJ 1/2 / 1J9 / 4 ||. (255 / 2ïc /
1J.1c º|). l|º |u|||I| Cu||ºº||u|, Bº||||.
Tuftonboro II. Cu||ºº||u| u| |]|I SI||º.
Tuftonboro IV, 99 / 1J9 / 4 ||. (251.4c / 2ïc.oc
/ 1J.1c º|). AJJ|:u| GI||º|] u| A|º||ºI| A||,
P|||||p: AºIJº|], A|Ju1º|, |I::.. G||| u| ||º
I|||:|, 1991.95.
Union II. |Iº|º|¯|º A|| GI||º|], u||1º|:||] u|
Rº¸||I, SI:|I|º|ºWI|.
Union III, 1J3 3/4 / 1ï3 3/4 / 4 ||. (2c3.5 / 441.3 /
1J.1c º|). l|º |u:ºu| u| Cu||º|pu|I|] A||,
|u: A|¸º|º:. G||| u| Ru|º|| A. RuWI|, oJ.4.
Union IV. Cu||ºº||u| u| R|º|I|J |º|º|. P|u|u
© B|uºº |. w|||º, 2J1J.
Wolfeboro I, 1cJ 5/o / 99 3/4 / 4 ||. (4Jï.99 /
253.3ï / 1J.1c º|). SI| ||I|º|:ºu |u:ºu|
u| |uJº|| A||. G||| u| Ru|º|| A. RuWI|, ïo.54.
Wolfeboro II, 1cJ / 1JJ / 4 ||. (4Jc.4 / 254 /
1J.1c º|). l|º ûI]|u| A|| l|:|||u|º. |u:ºu|
pu|º|I:º W||| |u|J: p|u1|JºJ |] ||º 19ï9
A::uº|I|º BuI|J A|| BI||, 19ï9.1.
Wolfeboro III, 1cJ 3/4 / 99 3/4 / 4 ||. (4Jo.3 /
253.3 / 1J.1c º|). SºI|||º A|| |u:ºu|. G|||
u| ||. I|J ||:. BI¸|º] w||¸||, ï3.o. P|u|u.
PIu| |IºIp|I.
A|| Wu||: I|º 19cc (u||º:: u||º|W|:º |u|ºJ),
luu|º:ºº|| I||]J I|J ºpu/] pI|||: u| ºI|1I:.
A|| © 2J11 ||I|| S|º||I / A|||:|: R|¸||:
Suº|º|] (ARS), |ºW Yu||
Chocorua I, 19c5¬cc, 12J / 12o / 4 ||. (3J4.o /
325.12 / 1J.1c º|). |u: A|¸º|º: Cuu||]
|u:ºu| u| A||, |u: A|¸º|º:, u.S.A.. G||| u|
||º I|||:| |||uu¸| ||º Cu||º|pu|I|] A||
Cuu|º||, 19cc, |.cc.9J. û|¸||I| ||I¸º © 2JJ9
|u:ºu| A::uº|I|º: / |AC|A / A|| Rº:uu|ºº, |Y.
Chocorua II, 12J 3/o / 12o ï/1c / 3 15/1c ||.
(3J5.o / 32c.2 / 1J º|). l|º SpººJ A|| |u:ºu|,
|uu|:1|||º, |º||uº|]. |u:ºu| |º||º|: Pu|º|I:º,
19cï.44.
Chocorua III, 12J / 12o / 4 ||. (3J4.o / 325.12
/ 1J.1c º|). |||WIu|ºº A|| |u:ºu|. G||| u|
|||º|J: u| A||, |19co.12.
Conway II, 19c5, oJ / 122 1/2 / 4 ||. (2J3.2 /
311.15 / 1J.1c º|). Cuu||º:] VI| Jº wº¸|º
|||º A||, |ºW Yu||.
Conway III, oJ 3/4 / 122 3/4 / 4 ||. (2J5.1 /
311.o / 1J.1c º|). |u||u| S||u| |u:ºu|.
G||| u| ||º l|u|I: G. lº||º|| 1|. |I|||], P19J.J5.
Conway IV. P|º:º|| |uºI||u| u|||uW|.
E|l|¸|I| l, 19cï, 12o 3/4 / 132 / 4 ||. (32ï /
335.5 / 1J.1c º|). Cu||ºº||u| VI| A||º|u:ºu|,
E||J|u1º|, l|º |º||º||I|J:. P|u|u¸|Ip|.
Pº|º| Cu/, E||J|u1º|, l|º |º||º||I|J:.
Effingham II, 12ï 1/2 / 132 / 4 ||. (323.o5 /
335.5 / 1J.1c º|). l|º P||||p 1u||:u| G|I::
|uu:º, A S||º u| ||º |I||u|I| l|u:| |u| ||:|u||º
P|º:º|1I||u|.
Effingham III. P|º:º|| |uºI||u| u|||uW|.
Moultonboro III. P|º:º|| |uºI||u| u|||uW|.
Moultonboro IV. P|º:º|| |uºI||u| u|||uW|.
Moultonville I, 124 3/4 / oï 3/1c / 4 ||. (31c.9 /
223 / 1J.1c º|). l|º |u:ºu| u| |||º A||:,
|uu:|u|. G||| u| ||. I|J ||:. S. |. |ºA:|I|
1|., ï3.o5.
Moultonville III, 123 / oo / 4 ||. (312.4 / 223.5
/ 1J.1c º|). l|º |º|:u|A||||: |u:ºu| u|
A||, |I|:I: C||], ||::uu||. G||| u| ||º |||º|J:
u| A||, |cï13. P|u|u |] 1u|| |I||º||u|.
Moultonville IV, 122 / o4 2/3 / 4 ||. (31J / 215
/ 1J.1c º|). |u|:||u:ºu| Buº|u|.
Pu|º|I:ºJ 19oJ, |u. 2JïJ. P|u|u |] 0|I|
Bº|¸|I||.
Ossipee I. Cu||ºº||u| û|. I|J ||:. E||º:|
|I||I, |ºW Yu||. P|u|u © B|uºº |. w|||º,
2J1J.
Ossipee III, 9ï / 141 / 5 ||. (24c.3o / 35o.14 /
12.ï º|). |u:|º Cº||º|¬Pº||u||||¸ A||:
Cº||º| u| |u: A|¸º|º: Cuu||], p||1I|º ºu||ºº||u|.
Ossipee IV, 9c / 13o / 4 ||. (243.o4 / 35J.52 /
1J.1c º|). |I|1º] |. wI¸|º| I|J Ru||
G|º:|] wI¸|º|. P|u|u¸|Ip| |] G. R.
C|||:||I:, ºuu||º:] l|º PIºº GI||º|].

The text is excerpted and adapted from the exhibition’’s catalogue written by Brian Kennedy. Director.* Because Frank Stella’’s abstract art engages so essentially with the basic elements and principles of art and design. p 5 Chocorua IV p 11 Sanbornville III This guide is provided as your own set of portable labels. create irregular polygons using magnetic shapes. the text also highlights these fundamentals. curator of the exhibition and President. p 6 Conway I p 12 Sunapee II Other resources provided in the exhibition include: Painters Painting: The New York Art Scene 1940–1970 (1973) Irregular Polygons p 7 Effingham IV p 13 Tuftonboro III in Frank Stella’’s abstract art own irregular polygons. p 9 Moultonville II p 15 Wolfeboro IV p 10 Ossipee II 2 Frank Stella: Irregular Polygons was curated by TMA Director Brian Kennedy. 3 . Dartmouth College. while he was director at the Hood Museum of Art. Special exhibitions supported in part by the generous members of the Toledo Museum of Art and the Ohio Arts Council. and organized by the Hood Museum of Art. and CEO of the Toledo Museum of Art. Use this Guide in the Exhibition The 11 monumental paintings in the Irregular Polygons series are presented without explanatory labels in order for the works to have the maximum visual impact without distraction.The paintings in this guide are arranged alphabetically by title. and read more about Frank Stella and abstract art p 8 Moultonboro II p 14 Union I Please do not touch the works of art.

interlock with. the Irregular Polygons “There’s a very shallow type of illusion going on in Chocorua. 4 Chocorua  I Chocorua  II Chocorua  III 5 . The illusion of depth of space may be created in two-‐dimensions by various means. one of the elements of art.) Stella associates the triangle in Chocorua with Mount Chocorua in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. rather than appear to be trying to eject it. Stella reinforces the square’’s ability to contain the triangle. he has immersed himself in visual thinking and creating. A consistent innovator who prefers to produce works in series. Stella made four versions of each composition. which was based on the Irregular Polygons. the illusion of depth is caused mainly by the value differentiation of the colors.1966 Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas Chocorua IV Frank Stella: Irregular Polygons When presenting Frank Stella with the National Medal of the Arts on February 25. These asymmetrical canvases play with illusion. By mitering the lightning-‐like band that cushions the triangle. Frank Stella (American. confronting Stella’’s previous emphasis on flatness while anticipating his career-‐long exploration of space and volume in both painting and sculpture. His sophisticated visual experiments——often transcending boundaries between painting. Because the abutting or impinging shapes do not overlap (except in Sanbornville. 10). proportion. But once you’re committed to doing this in three-dimensions. Each of the 11 compositions combines varying numbers of shapes to create daringly irregular outlines. Space. Shown here together for the first time in the same room. President Barack Obama described the renowned world’’s most innovative painters and sculptors. (Picture the band without the mitered corners and imagine how that would change the composition.” Frank Stella The central theme of the Irregular Polygons series is the relationship of shapes. and butt up against each other. When he began working on the Irregular Polygons. according The Irregular Polygons series of 1965––66 is startlingly dramatic and original. born 1936) has had a long and prolific career at the forefront of abstract art. print Since he first burst on the New York art scene in 1958. is the area around or within objects. including overlapping. Along with the 11 Irregular Polygons——each of which is named for a small town in New Hampshire where Stella’’s father took him on fishing trips as a young boy——this exhibition includes preparatory drawings for the paintings and the print series Eccentric Polygons (1974). altering their color combinations. In a two-‐dimensional image space refers to the arrangement of components on the surface. see p. Although based on simple geometries. then it really would be a pyramid inside a cube. that he decided to name them after places he had visited with his father during his boyhood. and color values. 2010. these paintings comprise one of the most complex artistic statements of Stella’’s career. which interpenetrate.

left-‐to-‐right movement. He has confirmed since that he preferred the composition with the parallelogram below. Diagonals often create a sense of movement in art.Conway I 1966 Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas 1966 Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas Effingham IV A notch at Conway in the White Mountains was a favorite fishing place for Frank Stella while on childhood vacations with his father. so it will not fall off. Stella explains the interdependence of the two shapes. But the smaller shape supports the larger one. The painting is up in the air.”2 Frank Stella If Stella had adopted the furniture reference literally. Where do you see balance in this connection? 6 Conway  II Conway  III Conway  IV 7 . another band of a different color completes the border around the parallelogram.”2 Art historian Michael Fried described the effect of the open top of Effingham 3 colors.1 In the painting named for this location. and the large shape needs the smaller one to hold it up. The shapes in Effingham butt up against each other rather than interlock. In the quotation above. but depends on how elements of varying visual weights or sizes in an image are arranged around a fulcrum point. because it wraps around the base and left side but does not extend into the interior. a parallelogram is locked into and supporting a rectangle. lines. It refers to the way shapes. in 1 Stella’’s words. The eight-‐inch-‐wide stripe used in all of the Irregular Polygons is especially pronounced in Conway. “What I had in mind was a swinging mirror in my mother’s bedroom. the mirror (the parallelogram) would have been above its bureau (the rectangle). The large shape secures the smaller one by wrapping its band around it. Balance can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. This was a rectangular mirror mounted on two pieces of wood with pivots. There. Movement is a principle of design. This causes the shape to appear to swivel. is itself interlocking. and forms direct the eye around a composition or interact with each other to suggest motion. however. such that the painting. creating a diagonal. The composition is complicated because: “…the larger shape could propel the parallelogram out. It is in equilibrium and the smaller shape is under tension. The interior band. Balance is one of the principles of design and relates to the sense of visual equilibrium in a work of art.

I want the independence of each unit.Moultonboro II 1966 Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas 1966 Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas Moultonville II Moultonboro features a triangle wedged into the top right corner of a shape that the viewer’’s eye may or may not complete as a rectangle.”2 The triangle can be read as tilting. and applying four coats of paint. is the degree of lightness or darkness in an image. Stella’’s interest color relationships and their effect on the relationships between shapes is evident in the four versions of each of the Irregular Polygons’ titles. seeming to project or recede.”3 Value. so it has white on each side. because I don’t want the confusion of shapes. which make the colored shapes appear lighter or darker as the viewer moves before the painting. If values contrast. shapes appear to be separated in space and some stand out. If I don’t like the way one comes out. shapes appear to flatten and to be closely connected in space. or you could say it’s sitting there—but it depends on which color version of the picture. The triangle fits into a Z-‐like band. The decision to make four versions of each design was capricious: “It’s just the number I thought I’d like to have. and it sets the way I’ll go with the next few pictures. putting down masking tape. Critic Rosalind Krauss remarked on the spatial ambiguity in the Irregular Polygons 3 “Moultonville sits in a way. If a color was not working well with the others in a given painting. I can go on to the next one. slanting. This was why. refers to the full visible light spectrum (rainbow) and black and white. If I see in it something that I don’t like—it’s still something to react against. It is painted independently. The wedge sits on top of the field and props up the background and the rectangular figure. requiring even more coats of paint. a wedge at the top and this spring band to the right that holds the Z band in place. Color. he hired an 2 The effect is compounded by the changes in value fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paint surfaces. Nothing touches each other. or sloping from the picture plane (the flat surface of the painting). for the first time. and it has a base. Destroyed 8 Moultonboro  I Moultonboro  III Moultonboro  IV Moultonville  I Moultonville  III Moultonville  IV 9 .1 Each shape had to be distinct. It’s kind of nice. Each item is doubly independent. an element of art. Stella explains. one of the elements of art and an aspect of color. preparing the paints. The rectangle is locked in—well.”1 Frank Stella The 44 paintings in the Irregular Polygons series forced Stella to find some help with moving the large stretchers. “I always leave a space. which differ only in their color combinations. plus all possible combinations therein. And it also gives me something to work against … it doesn’t matter if the first painting of each shape is good or bad—it gives me a start. and Stella achieved this via the wide Z banding but also the fine white line of raw canvas on either side of it. When colors are close in value. Stella would change it.

The composition.Ossipee II 1966 Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas 1966 Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas Sanbornville III Discussing the Irregular Polygons in 1966. and the composition relies on the colors applied to it for stability. You could have the Empress’s portrait in the pentagon of Ossipee. So this abstract form behaves the way that this could be a person. but the triangle in Sanbornville is an applied. but it’s obvious that I am doing a double thing. elements of art. one of the elements of art. In all of the other compositions. Abstract art always struggles with what representation has. that it’s flat and has the mechanics for representing illusion and it works. art historian Michael Fried wrote Although Frank Stella has said that he named the Irregular Polygons after small towns in New Hampshire because they reminded him of mountains. The balance of the shapes in the composition is somewhat precarious. This causes it to play a visual game with the parallelogram (which is of equal height) that creates an illusion of back-‐and-‐forth movement. The painting evokes a building rather than a mountain. I am trying to work with a parallelogram and a triangle in one situation. which places a triangle and a parallelogram within an overall irregular shape. The background for these pieces. Ossipee has especially personal associations. the landscape or architecture or whatever it was. each shape is necessary to the task of holding the composition together. Shape. Two-‐dimensional shapes can give the appearance of three-‐dimensional objects.”2 1 The distinction is most easily seen in Sanbornville. depicted shape. and it would be a good painting actually. and Stella acknowledges. Stella says: “The problem is always couched in the proposition of abstraction as some kind of remedial or representational figuration.”2 Texture is one of the elements of art and refers to the tactile quality can add interest or variety and can have a subtle effect on the relationship between shapes and forms. 1 Stella in fact fished with his father at a family vacation home in the White Mountains town of Ossipee during his youth. is an enclosed area defined by other 10 Ossipee  I Ossipee  III Ossipee  IV Sanbornville  I Sanbornville  II Sanbornville  IV 11 . Stella’’s Irregular Polygons use smooth epoxy and fluorescent paints. It’s almost better upside down. The Irregular Polygons share the continual challenge of all abstraction. but also utilize the rough texture of the canvas itself. but that’s probably not a particularly good way to work at it. The home at Ossipee is still owned by Stella’’s family. As Stella remarked: “There are abstract problems that don’t lend themselves to easy solutions. differs from the other Irregular Polygons in that the triangle is imposed upon it. Another feature unique to Sanbornville is that the triangle has a double border. The central concern of Stella’’s Irregular Polygons is the interplay of shapes. such as line or color. we don’t see it. so it becomes unfamiliar.

”1 Frank Stella Stella explains why the mitering of the band and the open space at the bottom of the painting are necessary: “It’s pretty much a pictorial problem. The open space at the bottom and right side allows you to get a sense of the triangle being pushed in. he has said. The triangle is pushing back. 7). That was essentially true from early on. but composition together. and it came out with a whole new geometry. If the larger shape is read as a background or field. but it didn’t quite go anywhere.”2 The triangle in Tuftonboro. of color as essential compositional elements in the Irregular Polygons. As with Effingham (p. But then I bounced back a few years later. but the spring has the ability to push it out. I took that one a long way. The band is obviously a spring and is going to propel the triangle out. with the triangle tilting in the process. is a good example of why Stella argued that his Irregular Polygons were not overly concerned with illusion but instead with the relationship between shapes. but I don’t want to keep outlining indefi¬nitely. “implied in the irregular polygon canvases like Sunapee II (1966). In fact. or bands. “Tuftonboro is actually one of my favorites. 12 Sunapee  I Sunapee  III Sunapee  IV Tuftonboro  I Tuftonboro  II Tuftonboro  IV 13 . Stella constructed the Irregular Polygons on the core compositional principle of asymmetry. So there has to be an open edge.”2 according to the principles of design. Stella tried to outline much of the exterior shape with a long colored band. so I’ve got it holding this triangle.Sunapee II 1966 Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas 1966 Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas Tuftonboro III With its four shapes. but it didn’t really sink in. the Polish Villages (1971––74)——was. Sunapee is the most complex composition among the Irregular Polygons. but also having space to be able to go out of it. an element of art. The band holds the shape of whatever kind of imagined rectangle this was. he thought about removing the colored block at the top of the composition altogether: 1 Along with Wolfeboro (p. So that creates a nice feeling in the painting. A composition can be symmetrical or asymmetrical and represents the artist’’s deliberate ordering of the picture. and I really liked it. but he admitted that it did not work as well here. Composition is the arrangement of the elements of art in an image Line. locked tightly into a notched larger irregular shape. when I was making the shape paintings. And the mitered edge was a way of dealing with that to open it up at the bottom. Stella uses thick lines. or I lose this openness. I basically built a painting and then painted on it. The impetus for the next major shift in Stella’’s career——his first wall reliefs. then the R-‐shaped band can seem to move backward and forward. 15). is a continuous mark with width and height. Sunapee was the most problematic composition of the Irregular Polygons for Stella.

” 1 Frank Stella The Wolfeboro format. As in Sanbornville. The risk is committing yourself to try to make art. Union was inverted from its original design. harmonious. and I feel that it is possible to do this without forcing oneself to see the paintings in a manner that really distorts them and their intentions. But you’re still striving for the ones that really feel beautiful in the end. This makes the depicted rectangular shape more enclosed. then I’m unhappy with it. Preparatory drawings for Union show the broad open side now on top as the base of the image. and complementary. a square plugged into the base of a truncated rectangle. When the art dealer John Kasmin saw the Union painting with its broad base in Stella’’s studio. Stella was unhappy with the composition. the eight-‐inch banding stretches around four of the five sides.”2 Frank Stella “The [Irregular Polygons] paintings are pretty frontal. with the larger one placed on top of the smaller. Conway. Stella described Wolfeboro and Sunapee (p. one seated upon the other. This truncated rectangle acts like a keystone but also seems to tilt. I want to see them flat. I don’t see twists in them. and the larger one is lugged onto the trapezoid base. but they get by. the way I want to look at these pictures. 12) as the most problematic compositions in the series: He was unhappy with the tension between his decision to allow the upper shape in Wolfeboro to rest 2 Unity is one of the principles of design.1 “Failure is relative. I see the planar ambiguities. Union is also the most stable of the Irregular Polygon compositions. Underlying structure and color or shapes that complement each other contribute to a unified picture. however. the effect being to create a modernist-‐looking container. the tallest of the Irregular Polygons. If something is not beautiful.Union I 1966 Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas 1966 Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas Wolfeboro IV The color schemes used for the Union paintings were especially successful. It is the overall coherence of the composition——the way the parts work together to create a harmonious whole. because the band above and to its left does not continue down the right side. And so that’s what it’s about. Wolfeboro contains two shapes. he suggested that it would look better if turned upside down. Proportion is a principle of design that deals with the relative scale of objects and shapes in an image to one another and to the viewer. because it evoked a tabletop mountain or a Mayan temple. has two irregular shapes. Stella agreed and inverted the painting. And I don’t worry about taking risk. and there are some things that are certainly not beautiful. creating a deliberately disproportionate composition. They abut rather than penetrate each other. 14 Union  II Union  III Union  IV Wolfeboro  I Wolfeboro  II Wolfeboro  III 15 . I feel that this is the right way. but I minimize them as much as I can.

colors. It can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. Texture refers to the tactile quality of an object. blue. Unity is the overall coherence of the composition——the way the parts work together to create a harmonious whole. and forms direct the eye around a composition or interact with each other to suggest motion. whether real or perceived. elements that provide visual and conceptual interest. Shape is an enclosed area defined by other elements of art. Stella has also explored the arts of sculpture and printmaking. Variety is the use of different. Rhythm is the path along which the eye follows a regular or repeating arrangement of motifs (such as shapes or colors) around a composition. lines. Harmony is the balanced use of similar elements throughout a work of art. By the mid-‐1960s. Principles of art and design Emphasis is the point or points of focus in a composition——areas that break the compositional rhythm. Movement refers to the way shapes. plus all possible combinations therein. and printmaking. he continues to work assiduously today. New York. the arrangement of components on the surface. Space is the area around or within objects. From the 1970s onward. yellow. which he launched with his aluminum paintings (1960) and then pursued further with the irregularly shaped paintings known as the Irregular Polygons (1965––66).. 16 17 .Elements and Principles of Art and Design Composition is the arrangement of the elements of art in an image according to the principles of design. He is without doubt one of the most significant and influential artists of the last half-‐century to work in the abstract tradition of painting. Biography Frank Stella was born in 1936 in Malden Massachusetts and lives in New York. often contrasting. from which he graduated in 1958. He attended Phillips Academy. sculpture. Color is the full visible light spectrum (rainbow) and black and white. Balance relates to the sense of visual equilibrium in a work of art——how components of an image are arranged around a fulcrum point. such as line or color. It has three part: Hue is the name of the spectrum colors (red.g. Andover. he was making his powerfully influential shaped paintings. and his art can be seen in nearly all of the world’’s major museums. At the age of seventy-‐five. how bright or dull it is) Value is the degree of lightness or darkness of a color . Proportion is the relative scale of objects and shapes in an image to one another and to the viewer.) Intensity is the purity of the color (e. and Princeton University. made with a moving point. but no depth. His consistent inventiveness has seen him make remarkable advances in pictorial and sculptural tradition. Elements of art (two-‐dimensional) Line is a continuous mark with width and height. etc. That same year he first gained included in the exhibition Sixteen Americans at the Museum of Modern Art.

Notes Credit lines for Paintings Plate Comparative Captions Frank Stella Tuftonboro III. Chocorua I -­ Sanbornville I Sanbornville II Drawings Frank Stella: Working Chocorua II Sanbornville IV Chocorua III Sunapee I Artforum 4 MOULTONVILLE  II Life Conway II Sunapee III Conway III Sunapee IV Conway IV Tuftonboro I Tuftonboro II Effingham II Tuftonboro IV Frank Stella -­ Effingham III Artforum 5 Moultonboro III Moultonboro IV Moultonville I Union IV Wolfeboro I Union III Union II Moultonville III Wolfeboro II UNION  I Time Out New York Ossipee I Moultonville IV Wolfeboro III Ossipee III Frank Stella Ossipee IV 18 19 .