Michael Auping: The Protractor Paintings are arguably Frank's best known and most popular paintings. They made abstraction popular with the non‑art public. There are thousands of posters reproduced of Frank's Protractor Paintings.

Narrator: Many of Stella’s contemporaries regarded with horror the possibility that abstract painting might be decorative. But during the 1960s, Stella moved dramatically away from the avant-garde idea that art needed to be difficult to be good. He wanted visual appeal, even beauty. At the same time, he was extremely rigorous in his development of the Protractor series. He produced thirty-one different formats. He began with simple quarter circles and semi-circles, then began making them more complex, one added form at a time. He made three versions of each format, making one where the arcs made a kind of rainbow, one in which they were interlaced, and one―as in this work―where they broke apart into fans.

Michael Auping: The Protractor Paintings, many of which are very large, though today, a lot of artists make large works, it's hard to understand how large these works seemed in the mid and late '60s. I mean, they were gigantic. 


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