Narrator: In his Copper Paintings, Stella took the idea of the shaped canvas in increasingly radical directions. Michael Auping.

Michael Auping: He begins to ask himself the question, "How much of a painting could I take away and still have it read as a painting?"

Narrator: With their eccentric shapes, the Copper Paintings seem to exist on the border between painting and sculpture. The paint itself contributes to this feeling.

Michael Auping: The copper paint, it's a metallic paint. It's very thick and it's heavy. When you read these paintings in person and particularly at the time when people were first experiencing them, the metallic aspect of the paint, it's basically sparkly metal mixed in with a medium, looks very, very physical and makes the painting look like an object. It does an opposite thing as well, which is it makes the surface a little more indeterminate because it has a slight sparkle to it. You can't quite tell where the surface is on these. With the lines, the empty lines, the canvas showing through in some cases, this also confused your reading of the thing from being an object or a painting or an illusion, etcetera.

  • Frank Stella (b.1936), _Creede I_, 1961. Copper oil paint on canvas, 82 1/2 x 82 1/2 in. (209.6 x 209.6 cm). Collection Martin Z. Margulies. © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Frank Stella, _Creede II_, 1961. Copper oil paint on canvas, 82 3/4 x 82 3/4 in. (210.2 x 210.2 cm). Private collection. © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Narrator: In his Copper Paintings, Stella took the idea of the shaped canvas in increasingly radical directions. Michael Auping.

Michael Auping: He begins to ask himself the question, "How much of a painting could I take away and still have it read as a painting?"

Narrator: With their eccentric shapes, the Copper Paintings seem to exist on the border between painting and sculpture. The paint itself contributes to this feeling.

Michael Auping: The copper paint, it's a metallic paint. It's very thick and it's heavy. When you read these paintings in person and particularly at the time when people were first experiencing them, the metallic aspect of the paint, it's basically sparkly metal mixed in with a medium, looks very, very physical and makes the painting look like an object. It does an opposite thing as well, which is it makes the surface a little more indeterminate because it has a slight sparkle to it. You can't quite tell where the surface is on these. With the lines, the empty lines, the canvas showing through in some cases, this also confused your reading of the thing from being an object or a painting or an illusion, etcetera.