Frank Stella, Delta, 1958
Narrator: Stella has described this work, Delta, as the first Black Painting.
Frank Stella: While I was working on it, something wasn’t working out. I don’t remember exactly what it was. And I just got tired of it and so I painted it all out. I followed what was there, but I painted it all out in black. The next day when I was looking at it, it seemed to have a kind of quality―being all black, although there were plenty of color and stuff showing through from between the bands, but the sort of darkness, the blackness, and the repetition of the bands seemed to work. So I started thinking about not waiting until I had a painting that wasn’t going anywhere and painting it out, and to make something more direct and just working in that way.
Megan Luke: One of the things that I find very interesting about Delta is, he's really playing with the different kinds of texture that the paint can have.
Narrator: Megan Luke.
Megan Luke: Some of the paint, if you look at it in a raking light, you see quite clearly that every other stripe is sort of soaked into the canvas, and the alternating stripes are shiny and glossy. He's playing around with the material makeup of the paint to give it through its physical texture, what he had obtained in color in earlier paintings.
Instead of alternating it red and black stripes, he's now alternating between shiny and matte, for example. That effect forces us to move around the painting almost as if it were a sculpture. It starts to change quite drastically in the light, and it's very receptive to the environment.