‘River of Ponds’ Tapestry designed by Frank Stella

Circa 1970
Frank Stella
305 cm x 305 cm
10'0" x 10'0"

Frank Stella is one of the leading figures of the Minimalist movement. Initially influenced by the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, towards the late fifties he moved to New York, where he abandoned the expressionist quest for colour in favour of flat and minimalist surfaces as exemplified in the work of Barnett Newman and Jasper Johns. He soon inaugurated a series of works emphasising the painting as an object in itself rather than as a representation of something else. Faithful to Minimalist philosophy, the canvas for him is nothing but a flat surface with colour, yet suggestive of a third dimension.

Towards the early 1960s, there was considerable interest in America in adopting textiles as a medium for artistic expression. In 1962, the World House Galleries in New York organised an exhibition composed of 26 carpets designed by leading modern art masters such as Léger, Mirò and Picasso. In 1968, the Charles E. Slatkin Galleries in New York opened an exhibition entitled American Tapestries, showing the textile artworks of twenty-two Pop Art and Abstract Expressionist artists. These artists were actively involved in the translation of their pictorial language to the textile medium, designing the preparatory cartoons which were then sent to India to be made into weavings. Their interest in the expressive qualities of three-dimensional flat surfaces found its quintessential expression in the art of the carpet.

This motivated a second exhibition in 1970, entitled Modern Master Tapestries, where the term ‘tapestry’ was applied to both wall hangings and floor coverings. The aim of this exhibition was to present a modern configuration to the ancient art of weaving.

River of Ponds was one of twenty works comprising the exhibition.

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