Firuzabad (Variation) I, 1970
acrylic on canvas
304.8 x 609.6 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 38679)
In 1958 Frank Stella developed his so-called "black paintings," a now pivotal series of works where patterns of three-inch wide parallel stripes were determined by the overall shape of the canvas. He continued to follow this rigorous deductive logic throughout the 1960s, and in 1967 while in Emma Lake, Saskatchewan, as part of a summer workshop hosted by the university, began work on his "Protractor" series, a late example of which we see here. While far more colourful and elaborate than his earlier monochromatic paintings, the contour of the work nevertheless still defines the arrangement of the bands within.
The title of the painting refers to Firuzabad in southwestern Iran, a town constructed between the third and seventh centuries AD on a circular plan with three ringed walls.