Two works by Frank Stella grace the grand third floor gallery of the Pizzuti Collection. They are each excellent examples of abstract painting from their periods (1970s and 1980s) and greet viewers with explosions of color and form as they extend out from the wall, leaving an array of playful shadows.
Frank Stella (b. 1936, Malden, Massachusetts) has had a long and prodigious career. His early workremains dear to art critics andhistorians who define Stella’s minimalistpaintings of the late 1950s and early 1960s as the paradigm of what painting could and should be. Stella’s comment “What you see is what you see” became the defacto definition of minimalism.But Stella continued beyond that moment to experiment with varying colors and compositions, differing modes of paint application, andirregularly notched canvases.
A marked departure happenedbetween 1971-73 withthe “Polish Village” series, whosecanvases protrudefrom wallsin geometric thrusts and zigzags of cardboard, wood, and felt. Targowica III and all of the works in this series are named after Polish villageswhose wooden synagogues were burned down during the cataclysmic events of World War II. Stella, whooften relates his paintings to historical events or literature, became interested in these structuresfor theirgeometric beauty and craftsmanship. And yet, Targowica III is not a physical representation of a synagogue or its destruction.It is not a memorial to a specific event. In the 130 paintings of the“Polish Village”series, Stellatakes inspiration from the synagogues’strong, sharp designs. Targowica III is an exciting and energetic examplecreated with felt, paint, and cardboard. Greens, yellows, blues and beiges intersect and thrust off into different directions. Forms push out and sink back, making the experience of looking at this work a physical game of movement.