Black Study I, 1968

Basel 2015
Lévy Gorvy
Work on Paper
Collage, drawing, paint, and printed on paper
50.0 x 100.0 (cm)
19.7 x 39.4 (inch)
'Black Study I' was made during Frank Stella's tenure at Kenneth Tyler’s print studio, Gemini Graphic Editions Limited in Los Angeles. Tyler designed for Stella a custom-made marker filled with lithographic ink that could be used to draw directly onto lithographic stones. He created in 1967 two suites of 'Black Series' prints, transposing into print the compositions of Stella’s rectilinear Black Paintings (1959-60) ('Black Series I,' twelve prints in an edition of one hundred) and diamond-pattern Black Paintings ('Black Series II,' eight prints in a series of one hundred). All of Stella's early prints were based on stripe paintings - conceived as so-called 'album' prints which were supposed to be assembled in binders to provide an intimate record of his early work. The prints are not illustrations of the paintings but differ significantly in detail and character. While the application of the ink with a lithographic marker recreates the freehand quality of the paintings, the stripes in the prints are generally more clearly defined resulting in a more intense optical pattern. Stella further changed the striped pattern and number of black bands in order to avoid the prints becoming miniature reproductions of the paintings. 'Black Study I' was made the following year, when Stella was still working with Tyler, and similarly returns to the formal patterns of the Black Paintings, this time incorporating hand-drawn and painted elements. 'Black Study I' is comprised of four separate lithographs, perhaps created as parts of the earlier print series. The lithographs are collaged together, with hand additions in white gouache and black grease pencil to disguise the seams. With the "regulated pattern" of the Black Paintings, and again in the prints following the paintings, Stella explained, he forced "illusionistic space out of the painting at a constant rate."