Monday, November 21, 2011

de la nada vida a la nada muerte

This is a great painting by Frank Stella (nominally a Minimalist, but we could get into why I don't think it makes sense to call him one). The title comes from a colloquial Spanish expression meaning something like "from life nothing to death nothing." The shaped canvas sets up an interesting tension between extreme, literal flatness and the optical impression of dimensionality, which I think is key to the way this painting works. If my experience is any judge, you can't seriously look at it without being made profoundly aware of its visual, autonomous presence - you can see for yourself at the Art Institute of Chicago - but what I mean is this: it manages to collapse its shape (its thingly character?) into a total, optical experience.

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