Quathlamba, from V series

Frank Stella

American, b. 1936



One of the greatest living American artists, Frank Stella changed the direction of contemporary artmaking in 1959 when four of his Black Paintings were exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art — and one was purchased for their permanent collection — a year after the 23-year-old graduated from Princeton. He went on to hold his first solo exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York a year later.

With a focus on the ultimate reduction of form, Stella was the first to move away entirely from a representational subject, describing his seminal works as “a flat surface with paint on it,” stating simply, “What you see is what you see.”

In Quathlamba I, from V Series Frank Stella uses two devices — monochromatic tones and parallel lines — to create what he described as “a regulated pattern” which, together, transform the individual elements into a single object.

Stella referred to his V Series as “Running V” paintings. An exploration of symmetry, they illustrate his fascination with tracking and shaping. Approaching the picture as an object, the series broke the boundaries between painting and sculpture by effectively creating a flat relief sculpture.

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