The San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art introduces Frank Stella, a graduate of Princeton University, as an abstract artist who started his career in the midst of the New York art scene. He uses his innovative talent for incorporating ideas generated from assorted novels and galleries to construct new forms of art (SFMOMA). Stella's geometric, vivid and layered pieces were an obvious new direction from the "action painters" of his time (SFMOMA). Series such as the "Black Paintings" ,"Partmouth", "Protractor", "Wave", and "Polish Village" were all different from the monotony of art in Stella's decade, as well as all different from each other.
The "Black Paintings" are a majority of square or rectangular canvases with familiar but different painting technique of abstract expressionists in his time (SFMOMA). Stella was inspired by a group of paintings in New York, belonging to the Leo Castelli Gallery (SFMOMA). One piece from the "Black Paintings" collection is "Zambezi," which was inspired by two of Jasper John's works; "Flag" and "Target" (SFMOMA). SFMOMA reveals that Stella used house paint and a standard 2 inch brush to make black stripes of pattern, separated by small sections of unpainted canvas. Simplicity of art elements such as line, form and color were opposite of the sporadic techniques used by the "action painters" like Jackson Pollock and William de Kooning (SFMOMA). It's as if Stella was beginning to modernize the abstract art world with the simple colors and lines. "Zambezi" has very visible brushwork and a simple strategy of slightly blurred edges of stripes (SFMOMA). After the "Black Paintings," Stella began to change his view of the rectangular picture surface (SFMOMA). He then lead his pieces in a different direction, by shaped paintings featuring shades of a single particular color following the external edge of his canvas (SFMOMA).
"Polk City" is a polygonal canvas from the "Partmouth" (SFMOMA). It stays along the lines of single color stripes and a geometric pattern, but began the shaped canvas experiment. The yellow lines that create movement along the canvas surface jolt from one angle of the canvas to the next. Stella used strong bulky shapes to emphasize the structure through angles (SFMOMA). He also began using 3 inch stretcher bars to protrude the piece away from the wall as if it were an individual object in the atmosphere (SFMOMA).
"Firuzabad" is a piece included in the "Protractor" series (SFMOMA). Stella designed the piece using a protractor and an assorted amount of painted semi-circles (SFMOMA). The two huge circles overlap and interlock some of the semi-circles inside of the piece. The bright colors were heavily influenced by Islamic art (SFMOMA). In fact, the pieces included in the "Protractor" series were titled after Eastern cities with circular layouts of the land such as Firouzabad, Iran (SFMOMA). "Firuzabad" is extremely large and hard to perceive in one glance (SFMOMA). One must study the structure to trace all of the lines that protrude into the other circle and the lines that dissipate into the painting itself.
The "Wave" series was based off of Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick, and a particular piece in the series is "The Quadrant" (SFMOMA). The aforementioned piece consists of wavy metal shapes layered with what one might consider picture frames (SFMOMA). Stella combined paint and sculpture to create these pieces (SFMOMA). The most dominant layer of metal is painted with lines of dark color that indicate movement, such as a wave (SFMOMA). It seems as if he used different shades of blue to give an ocean or water effect on the piece.