Frank Stella is one of the few artists who emerged in the 1960s that experimented with modernism and minimalism. In his work, Jasper’s Dilemma, he was able to showcase these two elements. This is an artwork that showed symmetrical lines that formed geometric shapes. It is evident that there is a repetitious as well as an identical pattern. More so, this painting was influenced by the “experiments done by the Minimal or Primary structure sculptors” (Arnason 545). Furthermore, this painting has numerous “square pictures with bands of uniform width made in 1962-3 which were based either on concentric squares or, as in this case, on a mitred maze.”
The two identical images were cut into four sections each by diagonal lines wherein the two “semi-diagonal lines” does not meet at the center which creates an illusion that the lines and “sequence of colors” are spiraling towards the interior and the exterior of the image. Also, the painting shows four “isosceles triangles” wherein one has a “bottom corner cut off by the edge of the picture.” Another feature of the artwork is the stripes which are in color and black and white. These are “painted in a progressive and cyclical sequence of eleven colors in the order of the spectrum, orange-red, vermilion, red, violet-blue, blue-violet, blue, blue-green, green, yellow-green, yellow and orange” while the other image has the same pattern but in different color .
Moreover, Jasper’s Dilemma, “presented the choice between painting in color or black and white.” Given this, it implied that Stella had also had a hard time deciding which of the two he would use for his painting. In the end, his indecisiveness won which resulted to two identical images in different color treatments. Back in the 1960s, Stella managed to influence other artists through his artworks to challenge the dominant artistic principles and to try new and innovative techniques (Molesworth).
- Arnason, H.H. History of Modern Art, 5th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2003.
- “Frank Stella.” 2009. Tate.org. 2 June 2009 < http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?cgroupid=-1&workid=13816&searchid=false&roomid=false&tabview=text&texttype=8>
- Molesworth, Helen. “Cheryl Donegan.” January 1998. Frieze Magazine. 2 June 2009 <http://www.frieze.com/issue/review/cheryl_donegan>