Narrator: In 1970, Stella began a series of paintings called the Polish Villages. He based them loosely on a book he’d been given by his friend, the architect Richard Meier. It documented Polish synagogues that had been destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.

Frank Stella: There was a way in which the structure, which, I made up a word called interlockingness―I mean I don’t know why I had to make that up! But anyway the parts and everything were locked together and it was just basically a kind of refined and complicated woodworking.

Narrator: The book inspired Stella to construct canvases that projected subtly forward, and to build up their surfaces with felt and other materials.

Frank Stella: It was a notion of, actually I was going to build the painting, I really wasn’t going to paint a painting anymore. So I could build these paintings and then in a sense paint them or decorate them or put collage on them or do whatever I wanted with them.

Frank Stella (b.1936), _Jarmolince III_, 1973. Mixed media on board, 116 x 90 x 8 in. (294.6 x 228.6 x 20.3 cm). Private collection. © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York