Acquisition Highlight: Frank Stella’s Jabłonów II


Post-war Painting & Sculpture

One of the Foundation’s biggest – literally! – acquisitions in 2015 was Frank Stella’s Jabłonów II, 1971. Jabłonów II, which measures 95 1/2 x 114 inches, is part of the current Power Geometry exhibition on view at Orange Door in Chicago. Jason Foumberg, the Foundation’s curator, tells us about the artwork, its history, and its significance for the Thoma Foundation collection.

As one of the best-known artists in the field of Hard Edge painting, Frank Stella developed a geometric style that changed the course of art history. Stella’s artwork brought the Minimalist movement to painting, and he further innovated his medium by producing works such as Jabłonów II, which contains elements of collage, painting, and low-relief sculpture.

This monumental work is part of Stella’s Polish Village series. The series includes 130 canvases, which each reference a wooden synagogue destroyed by the Nazis in Poland during World War II. These works seem to have been inspired by the carpentry techniques used to construct the now-lost synagogues.

For this work, Stella built an original form, called a shaped canvas, and responded to that construction with the painting surface. In this way he attempted to modify spatial perception through dimensional, large-scale painting. At over 9 feet tall, Stella’s painting has a powerful visual influence, and the work envelops a viewer’s perception in its color-forms.