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Le Neveu de Rameau

Artist/Maker: Frank Stella (United States, b. 1936)

Date: 1974
Medium: acrylic on canvas
Overall: 135 x 135 in. (342.9 x 342.9 cm)
Classification: Art Works
Credit Line: Gift of Martin Z. Margulies
Object number: 85.0191
DescriptionStella's rejection of the expressive brushwork and rich palette of the Abstract Expressionists who preceded him is evident in this work from the series entitled Diderot, after the French encyclopedist and critic. In these huge geometric variations on his earlier, smaller, Concentric Squares, Stella favored a neutral, controlled imagery that derives its composition and content from the shape of the canvas. The painting owes its visual excitement to the conflict between the extravagance of its size and the simplicity of the concentric bands of color, which reflect the depth of the stretcher. The artist has created a vigorous dialogue, really a visual contradiction, between the flatness and thickness of the individual widths of color. Stella repeatedly used the pictorial rectangle, appreciating it for what he considered its consistent power and strength. He has indicated that it set a rigorous standard against which he measured his later, more painterly work.
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