American painter and print maker, Frank Stella (born May 1936) specializes in the art of ‘Post-painterly Abstraction’ and ‘Minimalism.’ He has been a torchbearer of these innovative modern techniques that refuse to follow the conformist art. ‘Post-painterly Abstraction’ refers to a form of painting, which finds its origins in ‘Abstract Expressionism.’ It uniqueness is attributed to its representation of symmetric geometrical patterns, often set in vibrant color combinations, which could be as few as only two color tones. ‘Minimalism’ is an associate movement of ‘Post-painterly Abstraction,’ which is a form of visual art, where the fundamental features of the work are brought to fore. It belongs to the genre of ‘Modernism’ and carries its underlying methodology of ‘reduction.’ In 1984, Stella came up with his revolutionary work “The Science of Laziness (La scienza della pigrizia),” which is currently put up for display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
This large relief, “The Science of Laziness (La scienza della pigrizia),” is created over a canvas base with varied media. It makes the use of oil paint, enamel paint, which has the property of drying into a tough, yet shiny finish, and alkyd paint. Alkyd is a form of modified polyester, having a property of drying up on a glossy surface, but with greater flexibility in surface than in the case of enamel paint. Stella’s creative use of three types of paint was specifically designed to add grades in the appearance of colors and give the piece a truly eclectic appearance. Other media employed are etched magnesium, aluminum, and fiberglass (extremely thin glass in fibrous form, known for its strength and optical properties).
Etching is a process in which the surface of a metal is cut, using acid or mordant, to create engravings or different shapes. The prominent colors that adorn the background of “The Science of Laziness (La scienza della pigrizia)” are red, blue, green, and brown. On the left edge of the piece, a white semicircular disc is pasted with brush strokes of red and green. A conical, fan-like structure, with striation, is pasted towards the upper side of the disc. The left side of the ensemble features three cylindrical structures, radiating from the center, yet randomly placed one over the other. In line with Stella’s fascination with striped patterns, all three cylinders have the vertical bands of varying width. A flat and elongated abstract piece is glued to the top of the assemblage that covers the entire breadth of the work. It is painted in bluish-white paint, adding a masterstroke to the work.
Frank’s association with unorthodox art gave him the opportunity to experiment with his ripe imagination for creating some of the most arresting works such as “The Science of Laziness (La scienza della pigrizia,” being the best example.