Art Since 1945
November 25, 2014
Abstract expressionism revolutionized American culture during the postwar era. Works transcended from standard, generic, easel paintings, to gestural compositions. Art became more objective, and viewers were encouraged to respond with their own interpretations, liberating the art realm to have infinite meaning. The classifications of art became more ambiguous, as artists explored different mediums of self-expression. Frank Stella, an American bred Artist, contributed tremendously to the abstract movement with his eccentric style. According to abstract artist, James Pearson, “Stella’s work neatly bypassed most of the traits common to painting.”1He did so by transforming the pictorial plane through an array of materials. Stella is notorious for altering spatial dimensions through recycled recourses. His work protrudes a vivacious stance, one Person declares as “physical, [due to] the 3-D view… caused by the interrelations of metal parts and paint [is] complex.”2 His most innovative work was his Wild Bird series, which was released in the early 70s. Jerdon’s Courser, the first work within the series, drastically altered the boundaries of formalized painting. Stella revolutionized the boundaries of painting through his manipulation of form and dimension creating an ambiguous work in which interpretation was left up to the viewer.
Established in 1976, the work is an abstract representation of the exotic bird breed, Jerdon’s Courser. The relief is composed of, lacquer, ink, oil, glass and aluminum,3 creating a collaged effect. The intricate layering of materials, introduces a new, inventive way to approaching art. Such style can be classified as, “hybrid art, neither painting nor sculpture.”4 It was important for Stella to expand upon the way in which art was created. His energetic pieces, “systematically demolish the traditional, academic notion of painting as a rectangle illusion”5 due to its inventive structure. This shift in style reiterates the progressive, abstract era; in which flat surfaced figural works were no longer the main focus of the artist. In fact, Stella became fascinated with manipulating spatial dimensions. To him, “the aim of art is to create space, space that is not compromised by decortication or illustration,” but rather physically built upon. This can be exemplified through his use of metal in which he strategically attached geometric strips of to the picture plane.
Massive in stature, the abstract relief is composed of dimensions of 8ft by 10ft. Most of the gestural work made during this time, had an emotional response associated with it. According to Pearson, “The holistic quality of abstract expressionism was crucial – [it created an] instantaneous Zen like all over effect.”6 Stella creates such a response by enlarging the dimensions of the work. His relief is so big, that a significant amount of distance is required to take in the fully body of the work. While standing backwards, the on looker is presented with the works puzzling contraction of chaos and order. The work is juxtaposed on top of a large orderly yellow rectangle, that frames the chaotic sculptural center. The large rectangle, shifts focus towards the inner layering of the recycled materials, causing one to look inward. Stella is able to manipulate the viewers focus through the use of color. Everything within the work is coated in an Aluminum finish. The metallic color adds a shiny texture to the relief, unifying the work as a whole. According to art historian, Robert Rosenblum, “such paint had been used before by Pollock…and the glossy opacity [similar to a] mirror thwarts the spectators impulse to look into the picture.” 7Traditional art consisted of a two dimensional figural work in which one would observe at face value. However, Stella adds a variety of pictorial planes to the work,…