Frank Stella recently had a retrospective at the Whitney in New York. It was as strange and random and geometric and thoughtful as one would imagine from the prolific artist.
Assaulted with color, line, and unbridled form, the exhibition space evolved from being a standard gallery into a zone that the Mad Hatter himself would feel comfortable occupying. Ranging from nuanced dark painted squares to bursting neon metal sculptures, Stella’s exhibition was diverse and engaging.
To me, what stood out about the exhibition was the way it directed me to contemplate place. Each of the grand pieces consumed me as a viewer, creating a small space within a larger context: the context of the whole exhibition, of the Whitney building, of the city of New York as a whole. The colorful-verging-on-chaotic paintings and sculptures flowed from one to the next – having been curated like a dream – and contrasted the view of the water and the city skyline from the huge fifth floor windows that framed one side of the exhibition space. The geometry of the lines of the pieces met the geometry of the city, despite the stark contrast between the harshness of New York against the whimsy of Stella’s art.
As a viewer caught between two worlds – city and canvas, color and chrome – I could not help but feel like Alice in her moment of free falling-flying down into the rabbit hole, and seeing that everything (but especially place) is just a matter of perspective.