press release color

A week ago, as I was looking for a photograph of the Stella catalog I mentioned in the previous post, I came across this pdf of a typed press release from MoMA about a Stella retrospective in 1970. Everything about this bit of public relations made me intensely nostalgic for that period in American art and happy to have stumbled onto something so congenial to my sense of what a painter ought to be. The quotes from Stella at the end are what really made me smile, since there’s such humility and honesty in his words. I especially loved reading the phrase, “the Benjamin Moore” series, named after a brand of house paint. You won’t find a trace of the BS that infects so much talk about visual art in anything Stella says, plus he shares my admiration for Matisse, which makes me love Stella’s work even more:

In the past year, the interlaced, fan and rainbow patterned Protractor series have partly given way to paintings in which the protractor is used to create lyrical, almost floral patterns close in value and tender in their color — the most decorative stage of Stella’s painting. He sums up this recent development: “My main interest [in these pictures] has been to make what is popularly called decorative painting truly viable in unequivocal abstract terms. Decorative, that is, in a good sense, in the sense that it is applied to Matisse….Maybe this is beyond abstract painting. I don’t know, but that’s where I’d like my painting to go.”

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