"In Between" Dimensions

An influential visual artist makes a N.H. connection.

If you're an aficionado of the visual arts, you'll enjoy "Frank Stella: Irregular Polygons, 1965-66" [University Press of New England, $45]. It is an academic book, edited by Brian Kennedy, but it's accessible to those who simply want to learn more about Stella, his vibrant paintings and the role he played moving art into the modern age.

At mid-career Stella, who was constantly re-conceiving his art, began to work in, as he put it, "more than two dimensions, but less than three." During a period of two years, 1965-66, he used that approach to create 44 four-color variations of 11 individual compositions - interestingly, all of them named after small towns in New Hampshire.

The towns - Conway, Ossipee, Union, Effingham and Sunapee among them - were ones that he and his father had gone to fish and hunt during his childhood.

The book's editor, Brian Kennedy, says the compositions "mark a radical shift from [Stella's] earlier striped works in their use of large fields of color. The asymmetric canvases play with illusion, confronting Stella's previous emphasis on flatness while anticipating his career-long exploration of space and volume in both painting and architecture."

Rendered in fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas, Stella's irregular polygons added to the body of ever-changing work that made him one of the most important and influential visual artists of the mid-20th century.

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