Narrator: Stella’s approach to painting grew increasingly extravagant in the middle of the 1970s. He began producing swooping forms based on French curves and other technical drafting tools. And he began pushing painting into the third dimension, working to expand the medium’s possibilities.

Michael Auping: In the mid‑1970s, there was a great deal of critical dialogue about the so‑called death of painting.

Narrator: Michael Auping.

Michael Auping: There were critics who had said that painting had basically run its course. And Frank's career has always been about continuing painting. And I think his reaction to keeping it relevant was reengineering the technology of painting. It wasn't just a matter or dipping a brush into paint and applying it to a ground. It was a matter of taking physical parts and building a painting which you then painted, and then you built something over that, and painted that. He felt that that's where abstraction had to go in order to stay relevant. Painting needed new materials. It couldn't simply exist with oil on canvas.

Frank Stella (b.1936), _Inaccessible Island Rail_, 5.5x, 1976. Mixed media on aluminum, 117 x 153 in. (297.3 x 388.7 cm). Grinstein Family Collection. © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Narrator: Stella’s approach to painting grew increasingly extravagant in the middle of the 1970s. He began producing swooping forms based on French curves and other technical drafting tools. And he began pushing painting into the third dimension, working to expand the medium’s possibilities.

Michael Auping: In the mid‑1970s, there was a great deal of critical dialogue about the so‑called death of painting.

Narrator: Michael Auping.

Michael Auping: There were critics who had said that painting had basically run its course. And Frank's career has always been about continuing painting. And I think his reaction to keeping it relevant was reengineering the technology of painting. It wasn't just a matter or dipping a brush into paint and applying it to a ground. It was a matter of taking physical parts and building a painting which you then painted, and then you built something over that, and painted that. He felt that that's where abstraction had to go in order to stay relevant. Painting needed new materials. It couldn't simply exist with oil on canvas.