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Frank Stella
DOUBLE MITERED MAZE
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Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
3,500,0005,000,000
LOT SOLD. 4,340,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
34
Frank Stella
DOUBLE MITERED MAZE
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
3,500,0005,000,000
LOT SOLD. 4,340,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Frank Stella
B.1936
DOUBLE MITERED MAZE
alkyd on canvas
62 1/2 by 124 3/4 in. 158.8 by 316.9 cm.
Executed in 1967.
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Provenance

Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
Haunch of Venison, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 2012

Exhibited

New York, Paul Kasmin Gallery, Frank Stella: Geometric Variations, September - October 2011

Catalogue Note

A vital composition resplendent with vivid chromatic juxtapositions and a symphonic linear rhythm, Double Mitered Maze from 1967 is a singular painting in Stella’s celebrated body of work. Composed of two vibrant sequences of primary and secondary colors in the artist’s signature rotational framework, the present work attests to the artist’s bold experimentation with color and form in this early part of his career. Bridging the gap between the grandiosity of Abstract Expressionism and the quiet exactitude of Minimalism to push painting forward, the present work is both systematized in its regimented organizational framework, and evocative of energetic, painterly ferocity in its bold tonal makeup and compositional inertia.

Expanding outward and contracting inward in a visual cacophony of color, Stella’s Double Mitered Maze is deeply linked to the artist’s Benjamin Moore series. Painted using the same Alykd pigment that the artist had employed to craft the earlier series, the Mitered Maze paintings were borne from an iterative process that expanded on the compositional motifs established by that formative group of paintings. While Stella’s earlier works displayed a remarkable flatness, the addition of diagonal line segments at the corners of each field of paint beginning in 1962-1963 introduced spatial illusionism to Stella’s compositions. The artist’s concentric bands became the eponymous mitered line segments referred to in the title of the present work. 

Executed in the first decade of Stella’s prolific career, Double Mitered Maze is an early, exceptional example from this series. The double-format of the present work lends the painting extraordinary optical dynamism and challenges received assumptions of perception; Stella’s ingenious arrangement of color and line draws the eye to the center of the composition and creates a dueling sense of receding and projecting depth. Simultaneously, the regular schematic pattern exemplified by the uniform width of the bands, coupled with Stella’s precise modulation of color and tonal values collapses space together into a single flattened plane. 

Furthering this immersive effect, alternating primary and secondary colors – green, orange and purple sections as opposed to red, yellow and blue sections – introduce another element of spatial recession or progression that is intensified by the double panel format. Reflecting on these works, the artist stated: “the reason I used color that way at first, was to fit the new work into the whole thinking of the striped pictures in general. I wanted to use a fairly formalized, programmatic kind of color.” (The artist cited in Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Frank Stella, 1970, p. 76) Indeed, this controlled use of color allowed Stella to continue his conceptual exploration of indexical and mathematical frameworks for painting while infusing his paintings with intoxicating energy and vitality. 

Exhibiting a crisp regularity and rigid compositional order, Double Mitered Maze is both disarmingly simple and superlative of an almost incomprehensible illusionism. Known for their exactitude and calculated make-up, Stella’s Mitered Maze paintings are thought of as a critical movement in the artist’s oeuvre. Pointedly, Hyena Stomp, an early work from the group, appears on the cover of Frank Stella: Paintings 1958- 1965, Stella’s catalogue raisonné for early works and a defining text on the artist. Beyond its centrality to Stella’s artistic ethos of the 1960s, the present work, in all of its chromatic exuberance, is also remarkable for its forward-looking integration of not just the past, but also of movements still in their nascence, crafting a link “between the industrial aesthetic of Minimalism and the new color vibrancy of Pop Art.” (Michael Auping in Exh. Cat., New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Frank Stella: A Retrospective, 2015 p. 24) Situated at an integral nexus in the progression of abstraction, the present work brings together the past, present, and future, bridging them into a single iconic composition.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York