I was so excited to see the breathtaking show, Frank Stella, A Retrospective. It is located on the 4th floor of the Whitney Museum, a huge exhibition gallery, facing the East River. It includes Stella's earlier abstract paintings, such as his famous square series, the geometric solid color series, and some drafts of his thoughts. Also, there are a number of his recent installations.
One of his most famous paintings, The Marriage of Reason and Squalor. (1959) is exhibited in the foyer of the gallery. This painting is composed of white parallel strokes on a black canvas, and depicts a
minimalistic perspective. In fact, though there were other minimalistic geometric paintings, the entranceway still looked spacious and empty. It felt as if the gallery had been unified by Stella's paintings. It is similar to the MoMA abstract painting gallery, where Stella’s work is also being exhibited. The Whitney did an excellent job of presenting Stella’s abstract paintings in such a roomy and less distractive space. The neutral lights were perfectly fitted to the environment.
As I entered the main room of the gallery, several grand and extremely vibrant sculptures rushed into my eyes. They belonged to Stella's Indian Bird series. To be honest, I didn't really appreciate those sculptures, which are his most recent series. Perhaps it is because his abstract paintings and his theoretical reflections about them are highly sophisticated and well-done. In contrast, the
sculptures or they might be called installations, were so chaotic and disorderly; they were a riot of colors, and seemingly lacking in theme. I believe Stella is an excellent artist and had thought about these works thoroughly. This was apparent from the models and the drafts presented there. Still, I could not read or feel these works as much as his paintings. Although the quotations on the walls revealed his thoughts and theory clearly, they did little to help me understand the sculptures and the installations
Despite my misgivings, the exhibition overall did have a profound impact on me. It helped me to clarify my thoughts on the last 30 years of abstract art. It also underscored the importance of Frank Stella’s work and his contribution to the abstract art canon.