Ahab-stractions

Increasingly détraqué geometries

Frank Stella’s show at Jeffrey Deitch this past spring saw the artist bending his long-held investment in Caravaggesque “spherical-pictorial space” to farcical, triumphant extremes. When Stella died during the exhibition’s run, in early May at age eighty-seven, the show acquired an even more triumphant air. It was a high note for the artist to end on, if at a frequency not everyone could hear. Breathtaking affronts to taste, the five gargantuan, in-the-round “paintings” were either inspired by the keyboard sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti (these works were risibly mounted on wheels, à la Aeron task chair) or by salmon fishing in Quebec’s Cascapédia River (these suspended from custom hooklike armatures). The 3D knots were computer-rendered by Stella; slickly assembled with fiberglass or aluminum segments in the Low Countries; shipped to the artist’s Hudson Valley studio, where they were sprayed with lurid car paint; and finally transported to Manhattan via flatbed truck. (The eastbound lanes of the George Washington Bridge were allegedly shut down for safe passage.)

Wha…

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