Blog post revisiting Philip Leider's 1978 profile of painter Frank Stella republished on the occasion of a retrospective of Stella's work at the Whitney Museum of Art, on view through Feb. 7, 2016.
Leider, whose profile focuses specifically on Stella's work from the 1970s, notes: "Every artist of the better sort, wrote Thomas Mann, 'carries within him a canon of the forbidden, the self-forbidding.' A change of style of the magnitude undergone by Stella in the last two years constitutes a restatement of this canon, a shift in the view of what is possible and what is not possible to abstraction at any given time. In these most recent works, Stella, throwing open the doors to much that had hitherto seemed to him forbidden—figure-ground dichotomies, composition, gestural paint-handling, etc.—has achieved for abstraction a renewed animation, life, vitality, that has already about it some-thing of the sheerly miraculous. One would be blind not to see it, catatonic not to feel it, perverse not to acknowledge it, spiritless and obtuse not to admire it."