QUESTIONS TO STELLA AND JUDD
Interview by Bruce Glaser
Edited by Lucy R. Lippard

This discussion was broadcast on WBAI-FM, New York, February, 1964,
as “New Nihilism or New Art?”
The material of the broadcast was subsequently edited by Lucy R.
Lippard, and was published in Art News, September, 1966. In her introduction
to the text, Miss Lippard wrote that it contains “the first extensive
published statement by Frank Stella, a widely acknowledged source of
much current structural painting, and Donald Judd, one of the earliest
exponents of the sculptural primary structure, in which the artists themselves
challenge and clarify the numerous prevailing generalizations about
their work.”

BRUCE GLASER: There are characteristics in your work that
bring to mind styles from the early part of this century. Is it
fair to say that the relative simplicity of Malevich, the Constructivists,
Mondrian, the Neo-Plasticists, and the Purists is
a precedent for your painting and sculpture, or are you really departing
from these earlier movements?
FRANK STELLA: There’s always been a trend toward simpler
painting and it was bound to happen one way or another.
Whenever painting gets complicated, like Abstract Expres-
sionism, or Surrealism, there’s going to be someone who’s
not painting complicated paintings, someone who’s trying to
simplify.
GLASER: But all through the twentieth century this simple
approach has paralleled more complicated styles.
STELLA: That’s right, but it’s not continuous. When I first
showed, Coates in The New Yorker said how sad it was to
find somebody so young right back where Mondrian was
thirty years ago. And I really didn’t feel that way.
GLASER: You feel there’s no connection between you and
Mondrian?
STELLA: There are obvious connections. You’re always related
to something. I’m related to the more geometric, or
simpler, painting, but the motivation doesn’t have anything
to do with that kind of European geometric painting. I think
the obvious comparison with my work would be Vasarely,
and I can’t think of anything I like less.
GLASER: Vasarely?
STELLA: Well, mine has less illusionism than Vasarely’s,
but the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel actually painted
all the patterns before I did—all the basic designs that are in
my painting—not the way I did it, but you can find the
schemes of the sketches I made for my own paintings in
work by Vasarely and that group in France over the last
seven or eight years. I didn’t even know about it, and in spite
of the fact that they used those ideas, those basic schemes, it
still doesn’t have anything to do with my painting. I find all
that European geometric painting—sort of post-Max Bill
school—a kind of curiosity—very dreary.
DONALD JUDD: There’s an enormous break between that
work and other present work in the U.S., despite similarity in
patterns or anything. The scale itself is just one thing to pin
down. Vasarely’s work has a smaller scale and a great deal
of composition and qualities that European geometric painting
of the 20’s and 30’s had. He is part of a continuous development
from the 30’s, and he was doing it himself then.
STELLA: The other thing is that the European geometric
painters really strive for what I call relational painting. The
basis of their whole idea is balance. You do something in
one corner and you balance it with something in the other
corner. Now the “new painting” is being characterized as
symmetrical. Ken Noland has put things in the center and I’ll
use a symmetrical pattern, but we use symmetry in a different
way. It’s nonrelational. In the newer American painting
we strive to get the thing in the middle, and symmetrical, but
just to get a kind of force, just to get the thing on the canvas.
The balance factor isn’t important. We’re not trying to
jockey everything around.
GLASER: What is the “thing” you’re getting on the canvas?
STELLA: I guess you’d have to describe it as the image, either
the image or the scheme. Ken Noland would use concentric
circles; he’d want to get them in the middle because
it’s the easiest way to get them there, and he wants them
there in the front, on the surface of the canvas. If you’re that
much involved with the surface of anything, you’re bound to
find symmetry the most natural means. As soon as you use
any kind of relational placement for symmetry, you get into
a terrible kind of fussiness, which is the one thing that most
of the painters now want to avoid. When you’re always making
these delicate balances, it seems to present too many
problems; it becomes sort of arch.
GLASER: An artist who works in your vein has said he finds
symmetry extraordinarily sensuous; on the other hand, I’ve
heard the comment that symmetry is very austere. Are you
trying to create a sensuous or an austere effect? Is this relevant
to your surfaces?
JUDD: No, I don’t think my work is either one. I’m interested
in spareness, but I don’t think it has any connection to
symmetry.
STELLA: Actually, your work is really symmetrical. How
can you avoid it when you take a box situation? The only
piece I can think of that deals with any kind of asymmetry is
one box with a plane cut out.
JUDD: But I don’t have any ideas as to symmetry. My things
are symmetrical because, as you said, I wanted to get rid of
any compositional effects, and the obvious way to do it is to
be symmetrical.
GLASER: Why do you want to avoid compositional effects?
JUDD: Well, those effects tend to carry with them all the
structures, values, feelings of the whole European tradition.
It suits me fine if that’s all down the drain. When Vasarely
has optical effects within the squares, they’re never enough,
and he has to have at least three or four squares, slanted,
tilted inside each other, and all arranged. That is about five
times more composition and juggling than he needs.
GLASER: It s too busy?
JUDD: It is in terms of somebody like Larry Poons.
Vasarely’s composition has the effect of order and quality
that traditional European painting had, which I find pretty
objectionable.... The objection is not that Vasarely’s busy,
but that in his multiplicity there’s a certain structure that has
qualities I don’t like.
GLASER: What qualities?
JUDD: The qualities of European art so far. They’re innumerable
and complex, but the main way of saying it is that
they’re linked up with a philosophy—rationalism, rationalistic
philosophy.
GLASER: Descartes?
JUDD: Yes.
GLASER: And you mean to say that your work is apart from
rationalism?
JUDD: Yes. All that art is based on systems built beforehand,
a priori systems; they express a certain type of thinking and
logic that is pretty much discredited now as a way of finding
out what the world’s like.
GLASER: Discredited by whom? By empiricists?
JUDD: Scientists, both philosophers and scientists.
GLASER: What is the alternative to a rationalistic system in
your method? It’s often said that your work is preconceived,
that you plan it out before you do it. Isn’t that a rationalistic
method?
JUDD: Not necessarily. That’s much smaller. When you
think it out as you work on it, or you think it out beforehand,
it’s a much smaller problem than the nature of the work.
What you want to express is a much bigger thing than how
you may go at it. Larry Poons works out the dots somewhat
as he goes along; he figures out a scheme beforehand and
also makes changes as he goes along. Obviously I can’t
make many changes, though I do what I can when I get
stuck.
GLASER: In other words, you might be referring to an antirationalist
position before you actually start making the work
of art.
JUDD: I’m making it for a quality that I think is interesting
and more or less true. And the quality involved in Vasarely’s
kind of composition isn’t true to me.
GLASER: Could you be specific about how your own work
reflects an antirationalistic point of view?
JUDD: The parts are unrelational.
GLASER: If there’s nothing to relate, then you can’t be rational
about it because it’s just there?
JUDD: Yes.
GLASER: Then it’s almost an abdication of logical thinking.
JUDD: I don’t have anything against using some sort of
logic. That’s simple. But when you start relating parts, in the
first place, you’re assuming you have a vague whole—the
rectangle of the canvas— and definite parts, which is all
screwed up, because you should have a definite whole and
maybe no parts, or very few. The parts are always more important
than the whole.
GLASER: And you want the whole to be more important than
the parts?
JUDD: Yes. The whole’s it. The big problem is to maintain
the sense of the whole thing.
GLASER: Isn’t it that there’s no gestation, that there’s just an
idea?
JUDD: I do think about it, I’ll change it if I can. I just want it
to exist as a whole thing. And that’s not especially unusual.
Painting’s been going toward that for a long time. A lot of
people, like Oldenburg for instance, have a “whole” effect to
their work.
STELLA: But we’re all still left with structural or compositional
elements. The problems aren’t any different. I still
have to compose a picture, and if you make an object you
have to organize the structure. I don’t think our work is that
radical in any sense because you don’t find any really new
compositional or structural element. I don’t know if that exists.
It’s like the idea of a color you haven’t seen before.
Does something exist that’s as radical as a diagonal that’s
not a diagonal? Or a straight line or a compositional element
that you can’t describe?
GLASER: So even your efforts, Don, to get away from European
art and its traditional compositional effects, is somewhat
limited because you’re still going to be using the same
basic elements that they used.
JUDD: No, I don’t think so. I’m totally uninterested in European
art and I think it’s over with. It’s not so much the elements we
use that are new as their context. For example,
they might have used a diagonal, but no one there ever used
as direct a diagonal as Morris Louis did.
STELLA: Look at all the Kandinskys, even the mechanical
ones. They’re sort of awful, but they have some pretty radical
diagonals and stuff. Of course, they’re always balanced.
JUDD: When you make a diagonal clear across the whole
surface, it’s a very different thing.
STELLA: But none the less, the idea of the diagonal has been
around for a long time.
JUDD: That’s true; there’s always going to be something in
one’s work that’s been around for a long time, but the fact
that compositional arrangement isn’t important is rather new.
Composition is obviously very important to Vasarely, but all
I’m interested in is having a work interesting to me as a
whole. I don’t think there’s any way you can juggle a composition
that would make it more interesting in terms of the
parts.
GLASER: You obviously have an awareness of Constructivist
work, like Gabo and Pevsner. What about the Bauhaus?
You keep talking about spareness and austerity. Is that only
in relation to the idea that you want your work “whole,” or
do you think there was something in Mies’s Bauhaus dictum
that “less is more”?
JUDD: Not necessarily. In the first place, I’m more interested
in NeoPlasticism and Constructivism than I was before, perhaps,
but I was never influenced by it, and I’m certainly influenced
by what happens in the United States rather than by
anything like that. So my admiration for someone like Pevsner
or Gabo is in retrospect. I consider the Bauhaus too long
ago to think about, and I never thought about it much.
GLASER: What makes the space you use different from Neo-
Plastic sculpture? What are you after in the way of a new
space?
JUDD: In the first place, I don’t know a heck of a lot about
NeoPlastic sculpture, outside of vaguely liking it. I’m using
actual space because when I was doing paintings I couldn’t
see any way out of having a certain amount of illusionism in
the paintings. I thought that also was a quality of the Western
tradition and I didn’t want it.
GLASER: When you did the horizontal with the five verticals
coming down from it, you said you thought of it as a whole;
you weren’t being compositional in any way or opposing the
elements. But, after all, you are opposing them because vertical
and horizontal are opposed by nature; and the perpendicular
is an opposition. And if you have space in between
each one, then it makes them parts.
JUDD: Yes, it does, somewhat. You see, the big problem is
that anything that is not absolutely plain begins to have parts
in some way. The thing is to be able to work and do different
things and yet not break up the wholeness that a piece has.
To me the piece with the brass and the five verticals is above
all that shape. I don’t think of the brass being opposed to the
five things, as Gabo or Pevsner might have an angle and then
another one supporting it or relating on a diagonal. Also the
verticals below the brass both support the brass and pend
from it, and the length is just enough so it seems that they
hang, as well as support it, so they’re caught there. I didn’t
think they came loose as independent parts. If they were
longer and the brass obviously sat on them, then I wouldn’t
like it.
GLASER: You’ve written about the predominance of chance
in Robert Morris’s work. Is this element in your pieces too?
JUDD: Yes. Pollock and those people represent actual
chance; by now it’s better to make that a foregone conclusion—
you don’t have to mimic chance. You use a simple
form that doesn’t look like either order or disorder. We recognize
that the world is ninety percent chance and accident.
Earlier painting was saying that there’s more order in the
scheme of things than we admit now, like Poussin saying
order underlies nature. Poussin’s order is anthropomorphic.
Now there are no preconceived notions. Take a simple
form—say a box—and it does have an order, but it’s not so
ordered that that’s the dominant quality. The more parts a
thing has, the more important order becomes, and finally
order becomes more important than anything else.
GLASER: There are several other characteristics that accompany
the prevalence of symmetry and simplicity in the new
work. There’s a very finished look to it, a complete negation
of the painterly approach. Twentieth-century painting has
been concerned mainly with emphasizing the artist’s presence
in the work, often with an unfinished quality by which
one can participate in the experience of the artist, the process
of painting the picture. You deny all this, too; your work has
an industrial look, a non-man-made look.
STELLA: The artist’s tools or the traditional artist’s brush
and maybe even oil paint are all disappearing very quickly.
We use mostly commercial paint, and we generally tend toward
larger brushes. In a way, Abstract Expressionism
started all this. De Kooning used house painters’ brushes and
house painters’ techniques.
GLASER: Pollock used commercial paint.
STELLA: Yes, the aluminum paint. What happened, at least
for me, is that when I first started painting I would see Pollock,
de Kooning, and the one thing they all had that I didn’t
have was an art school background. They were brought up
on drawing and they all ended up painting or drawing with
the brush. They got away from the smaller brushes and, in an
attempt to free themselves, they got involved in commercial
paint and house-painting brushes. Still it was basically drawing
with paint, which has characterized almost all twentiethcentury
painting. The way my own painting was going,
drawing was less and less necessary. It was the one thing I
wasn’t going to do. I wasn’t going to draw with the brush.
GLASER: What induced this conclusion that drawing wasn’t
necessary any more?
STELLA: Well, you have a brush and you’ve got paint on the
brush, and you ask yourself why you’re doing whatever it is
you’re doing, what inflection you’re actually going to make
with the brush and with the paint that’s on the end of the
brush. It’s like handwriting. And I found out that I just didn’t
have anything to say in those terms. I didn’t want to make
variations; I didn’t want to record a path. I wanted to get the
paint out of the can and onto the canvas. I knew a wise guy
who used to make fun of my painting, but he didn’t like the
Abstract Expressionists either. He said they would be good
painters if they could only keep the paint as good as it is in
the can. And that’s what I tried to do. I tried to keep the paint
as good as it was in the can.
GLASER: Are you implying that you are trying to destroy
painting?
STELLA: It’s just that you can’t go back. It’s not a question
of destroying anything. If something’s used up, something’s
done, something’s over with, what’s the point of getting involved
with it?
JUDD: Root, hog, or die.
GLASER: Are you suggesting that there are no more solutions
to, or no more problems that exist in painting?
STELLA: Well, it seems to me we have problems. When
Morris Louis showed in 1958, everybody (Art News, Tom
Hess) dismissed his work as thin, merely decorative. They
still do. Louis is the really interesting case. In every sense his
instincts were Abstract Expressionist, and he was terribly
involved with all of that, but he felt he had to move, too. I
always get into arguments with people who want to retain
the old values in painting—the humanistic values that they
always find on the canvas. If you pin them down, they always
end up asserting that there is something there besides
the paint on the canvas. My painting is based on the fact that
only what can be seen there is there. It really is an object.
Any painting is an object and anyone who gets involved
enough in this finally has to face up to the objectness of
whatever it is that he’s doing. He is making a thing. All that
should be taken for granted. If the painting were lean
enough, accurate enough, or right enough, you would just be
able to look at it. All I want anyone to get out of my paintings,
and all I ever get out of them, is the fact that you can
see the whole idea without any confusion.... What you see is
what you see.
GLASER: That doesn’t leave too much afterwards, does it?
STELLA: I don’t know what else there is. It’s really something
if you can get a visual sensation that is pleasurable, or
worth looking at, or enjoyable, if you can just make something
worth looking at.
GLASER: But some would claim that the visual effect is
minimal, that you’re just giving us one color or a symmetrical
grouping of lines. A nineteenth-century landscape painting
would presumably offer more pleasure, simply because
it’s more complicated.
JUDD: I don’t think it’s more complicated.
STELLA: No, because what you’re saying essentially is that a
nineteenth-century landscape is more complicated because
there are two things working—deep space and the way it’s
painted. You can see how it’s done and read the figures in
the space. Then take Ken Noland’s painting, for example,
which is just a few stains on the ground. If you want to look
at the depths, there are just as many problematic spaces. And
some of them are extremely complicated technically; you
can worry and wonder how he painted the way he did.
JUDD: Old master painting has a great reputation for being
profound, universal, and all that, and it isn’t necessarily.
STELLA: But I don’t know how to get around the part that
they just wanted to make something pleasurable to look at,
because even if that’s what I want, I also want my painting
to be so you can’t avoid the fact that it’s supposed to be entirely
visual.
GLASER: You’ve been quoted, Frank, as saying that you
want to get sentimentality out of painting.
STELLA: I hope I didn’t say that. I think what I said is that
sentiment wasn’t necessary. I didn’t think then, and I don’t
now, that it’s necessary to make paintings that will interest
people in the sense that they can keep going back to explore
painterly detail. One could stand in front of any Abstract-
Expressionist work for a long time, and walk back and forth,
and inspect the depths of the pigment and the inflection and
all the painterly brushwork for hours. But I wouldn’t particularly
want to do that and also I wouldn’t ask anyone to do
that in front of my paintings. To go further, I would like to
prohibit them from doing that in front of my painting. That’s
why I make the paintings the way they are, more or less.
GLASER: Why would you like to prohibit someone from
doing such a thing?
STELLA: I feel that you should know after a while that
you’re just sort of mutilating the paint. If you have some
feeling about either color or direction of line or something, I
think you can state it. You don’t have to knead the material
and grind it up. That seems destructive to me; it makes me
very nervous. I want to find an attitude basically constructive
rather than destructive.
GLASER: You seem to be after an economy of means, rather
than trying to avoid sentimentality. Is that nearer it?
STELLA: Yes, but there’s something awful about that “economy
of means.” I don’t know why, but I resent that immediately.
I don’t go out of my way to be economical. It’s hard to
explain what exactly it is I’m motivated by, but I don’t think
people are motivated by reduction. It would be nice if we
were, but actually, I’m motivated by the desire to make
something, and I go about it in the way that seems best.
JUDD: You’re getting rid of the things that people used to
think were essential to art. But that reduction is only incidental.
I object to the whole reduction idea, because it’s. only
reduction of those things someone doesn’t want. If my work
is reductionist it’s because it doesn’t have the elements that
people thought should be there. But it has other elements that
I like. Take Noland again. You can think of the things he
doesn’t have in his paintings, but there’s a whole list of
things that he does have that painting didn’t have before.
Why is it necessarily a reduction?
STELLA: You want to get rid of things that get you into
trouble. As you keep painting you find things are getting in
your way a lot and those are the things that you try to get out
of the way. You might be spilling a lot of blue paint and because
there’s something wrong with that particular paint, you
don’t use it any more, or you find a better thinner or better
nails. There’s a lot of striving for better materials, I’m afraid.
I don’t know how good that is.
JUDD: There’s nothing sacrosanct about materials.
STELLA: I lose sight of the fact that my paintings are on
canvas, even though I know I’m painting on canvas, and I
just see my paintings. I don’t get terribly hung up over the
canvas itself. If the visual act taking place on the canvas is
strong enough, I don’t get a very strong sense of the material
quality of the canvas. It sort of disappears. I don’t like things
that stress the material qualities. I get so I don’t even like
Ken Noland’s paintings (even though I like them a lot).
Sometimes all that bare canvas gets me down, just because
there’s so much of it; the physical quality of the cotton duck
gets in the way.
GLASER: Another problem. If you make so many canvases
alike, how much can the eye be stimulated by so much repetition?
STELLA: That really is a relative problem because obviously
it strikes different people different ways. I find, say, Milton
Resnick as repetitive as I am, if not more so. The change in
any given artist’s work from picture to picture isn’t that
great. Take a Pollock show. You may have a span of ten
years, but you could break it down to three or four things
he’s done. In any given period of an artist, when he’s working
on a particular interest or problem, the paintings tend to
be a lot alike. It’s hard to find anyone who isn’t like that. It
seems to be the natural situation. And everyone finds some
things more boring to look at than others.
GLASER: Don, would it be fair to say that your approach is a
nihilistic one, in view of your wish to get rid of various elements?
JUDD: No, I don’t consider it nihilistic or negative or cool or
anything else. Also I don’t think my objection to the Western
tradition is a positive quality of my work. It’s just something
I don’t want to do, that’s all. I want to do something else.
GLASER: Some years ago we talked about what art will be,
an art of the future. Do you have a vision of that?
JUDD: No, I was just talking about what my art will be and
what I imagine a few other people’s art that I like might be.
GLASER: Don’t you see art as kind of evolutionary? You
talk about what art was and then you say it’s old hat, it’s all
over now.
JUDD: It’s old hat because it involves all those beliefs you
really can’t accept in life. You don’t want to work with it
any more. It’s not that any of that work has suddenly become
mad in itself. If I get hold of a Piero della Francesca, that’s
fine. I wanted to say something about this painterly thing. It
certainly involves a relationship between what’s outside—
nature or a figure or something—and the artist’s actually
painting that thing, his particular feeling at the time. This is
just one area of feeling, and I, for one, am not interested in it
for my own work. I can’t do anything with it. It’s been fully
exploited and I don’t see why the painterly relationship exclusively
should stand for art.
GLASER: Are you suggesting an art without feeling?
JUDD: No, you’re reading me wrong. Because I say that is
just one kind of feeling—painterly feeling.
STELLA: Let’s take painterly simply to mean Abstract Expressionism,
to make it easier. Those painters were obviously
involved in what they were doing as they were doing
it, and now in what Don does, and I guess in what I do, a lot
of the effort is directed toward the end. We believe that we
can find the end, and that a painting can be finished. The
Abstract Expressionists always felt the painting’s being finished
was very problematical. We’d more readily say that
our paintings were finished and say, well, it’s either a failure
or it’s not, instead of saying, well, maybe it’s not really finished.
GLASER: You’re saying that the painting is almost completely
conceptualized before it’s made, that you can devise
a diagram in your mind and put it on canvas. Maybe it would
be adequate to simply verbalize this image and give it to the
public rather than giving them your painting?
STELLA: A diagram is not a painting; it’s as simple as that. I
can make a painting from a diagram, but can you? Can the
public? It can just remain a diagram if that’s all I do, or if it’s
a verbalization it can just remain a verbalization. Clement
Greenberg talked about the ideas or possibilities of painting
in, I think, the After Abstract Expressionism article,1 and he
allows a blank canvas to be an idea for a painting. It might
not be a good idea, but it’s certainly valid. Yves Klein did
the empty gallery. He sold air, and that was a conceptualized
art, I guess.2
GLASER: Reductio ad absurdum.
STELLA: Not absurd enough, though.
JUDD: Even if you can plan the thing completely ahead of
time, you still don’t know what it looks like until it’s right
there. You may turn out to be totally wrong once you have
gone to all the trouble of building this thing.
STELLA: Yes, and also that’s what you want to do. You actually
want to see the thing. That’s what motivates you to do
it in the first place, to see what it’s going to look like.
JUDD: You can think about it forever in all sorts of versions,
but it’s nothing~ until it is made visible.
GLASER: Frank, your stretchers are thicker than the usual.
When your canvases are shaped or cut out in the center, this
gives them a distinctly sculptural presence.
STELLA: I make the canvas deeper than ordinarily, but I began
accidentally. I turned one-by-threes on edge to make a
quick frame, and then I liked it. When you stand directly in
front of the painting it gives it just enough depth to hold it
off the wall; you’re conscious of this sort of shadow, just
enough depth to emphasize the surface. In other words, it
makes it more like a painting and less like an object, by
stressing the surface.
JUDD: I thought of Frank’s aluminum paintings as slabs, in a
way.
STELLA: I don’t paint around the edge; Rothko does, so do a
lot of people; Sven Lukin does and he’s much more of an
object painter than I am.
GLASER: Do you think the frequent use of the word “presence”
in critical writing about your kind of work has something
to do with the nature of the objects you make, as if to
suggest there is something more enigmatic about them than
previous works of art?
STELLA: You can’t say that your work has more of this or
that than somebody else’s. It’s a matter of terminology. De
Kooning or A1 Held paint “tough” paintings and we would
have to paint with “presence,” I guess. It’s just another way
of describing.
GLASER: Nobody’s really attempted to develop some new
terminology to deal with the problems of these paintings.
STELLA: But that’s what I mean. Sometimes I think our
paintings are a little bit different, but on the other hand it
seems that they’re still dealing with the same old problems
of making art. I don’t see why everyone seems so desperately
in need of a new terminology, and I don’t see what
there is in our work that needs a new terminology either to
explain or to evaluate it. It’s art, or it wants to be art, or it
asks to be considered as art, and therefore the terms we have
for discussing art are probably good enough. You could say
that the terms used so far to discuss and evaluate art are
pretty grim; you could make a very good case for that. But
nonetheless, I imagine there’s nothing specific in our work
that asks for new terms, any more than any other art.
GLASER: Meyer Schapiro once suggested that there might
be an analogy between, say, a Barnett Newman with a field
of one color and one simple stripe down the middle and a
mosaic field of some Byzantine church, where there was a
completely gold field and then a simple vertical form of the
Madonna.
JUDD: A lot of things look alike, but they’re not necessarily
very much alike.
STELLA: Like the whole idea of the field. What you mean by
a field in a painting is a pretty difficult idea. A mosaic field
can never have anything to do with a Morris Louis field.
JUDD: You don’t feel the same about a Newman and a gold
field because Newman’s doing something with his field.
STELLA: Newman’s is in the canvas and it really does work
differently. With so-called advanced painting, for example,
you should drop composition. That would be terrifically
avant-garde; that would be a really good idea. But the question
is, how do you do it? The best article I ever read about
pure painting and all that was Elaine de Kooning’s Pure
Paints a Picture.3 Pure was very pure and he lived in a bare,
square white loft. He was very meticulous and he gave up
painting with brushes and all that and he had a syringe
loaded with a colorless fluid, which he injected into his colorless,
odorless foam rubber. That was how he created his art
objects—by injecting colorless fluid into a colorless material.
JUDD: Radical artist.
STELLA: Well, Yves Klein was no doubt a radical artist, or
he didn’t do anything very interesting.
JUDD: I think Yves Klein to some extent was outside of
European painting, but why is he still not actually radical?
STELLA: I don’t know. I have one of his paintings, which I
like in a way, but there’s something about him . . . I mean
what’s not radical about the idea of selling air? Still, it
doesn’t seem very interesting.
JUDD: Not to me either. One thing I want is to be able to see
what I’ve done, as you said. Art is something you look at.
GLASER: You have made the point that you definitely want
to induce some effective enjoyment in your work, Frank. But
the fact is that right now the majority of people confronted
by it seem to have trouble in this regard. They don’t get this
enjoyment that you seem to be very simply presenting to
them. That is, they are still stunned and taken aback by its
simplicity. Is this because they are not ready for these works,
because they simply haven’t caught up to the artist again?
STELLA: Maybe that’s the quality of simplicity. When Mantle
hits the ball out of the park, everybody is sort of stunned
for a minute because it’s so simple. He knocks it right out of
the park, and that usually does it.