Frank Stella, Then Came a Stick and Beat the Dog, 1984, from Illustrations After El Lissitzky's Had Gadya

Artist: Frank Stella (1936 - 2024)
Title:Then Came a Stick and Beat the Dog, 1984 from Illustrations After El Lissitzky's Had Gadya
Reference:Axsom 174
Series:Illustrations after El Lissitzky’s Had Gadya, 1984
Medium:Hand-coloring and collage with lithograph, linocut, and silkscreen on T. H. Saunders paper (background) and shaped, hand-cut Somerset paper (collage)
Image Size:52 7/8 in x 52 3/4 in
Sheet Size:52 7/8 in x 52 3/4 in
Framed Size:61 7/8 in x 61 3/4 in
Edition:Numbered from the edition of 60 in pencil in the lower left; published by Waddington Graphics, London.
Signature:This work is hand signed and dated by Frank Stella (Malden, 1936 - ) in pencil in the lower left: ‘F. Stella ‘84’
Condition:This work is in excellent condition.
ID #W-7525

Historical Description

Frank Stella Then Came a Stick and Beat the Dog, 1984, from Illustrations After El Lissitzky's Had Gadya is richly packed with poetic, lyrical, and visual effects. In a series of twelve color variations, Stella opens up a world that unites color, form, history and culture in both tactile and conceptual ways.

Then Came a Stick and Beat the Dog, 1984 is a stellar example of his use of incredibly bright colors and a plethora of irregular shapes. The first thing you notice about this piece besides its colossal size is the color palette. The colors are highly saturated and vibrant; they carry a certain narrative, heavy quality that speaks to you. To name a few, Stella uses electrifying colors of magenta, pink, silver, brown, green, lavender, and aquamarine. These hues dazzle in plain sight but also accentuate the disorderly shapes of cones and cylinders. The outlines of these forms spill over the edge of the paper while the magical swirls of lines occupy your vision. The diversity in texture and layering of color on top of each other heightens the sense of mass and weight incorporated into this work.

The rhythmic lines and experimental quality of irregular shapes compose a kind of poetic allure. Inspired by gouaches done by the Russian avant-garde artist, El Lissitsky, Stella takes on a fresh new rendition. El Lissitzky’s works that Stella had seen in Tel Aviv were based on a song called “Had Gadya.” Stella designated titles for each variant in the series that becomes very much a part of his style as an artist. This piece is an example that highlights Stella as an artist who fuses inspiration from his well-traveled life into an aesthetically and culturally pleasing work of art. In all of this work’s interwoven structures, layered colors, and historic background, lies the mastery of Frank Stella, as a distinct artist in his ability to combine a vast array of elements.

Created in 1984, Then Came a Stick and Beat the Dog, 1984 from Illustrations After El Lissitzky's Had Gadya is a hand-coloring and collage with lithograph, linocut, and silkscreen on T. H. Saunders paper (background) and shaped, hand-cut Somerset paper (collage). Hand-signed and dated by Frank Stella (Massachusetts, 1936 - ) in pencil in the lower left: ‘F. Stella ‘84’, this work is numbered from the edition of 60 in pencil in the left; published by Waddington Graphics, London.

Frank Stella Had Gadya Series:

American artist Frank Stella is renowned for his significant contributions to the minimalist and abstract expressionist art movements. While he is primarily associated with his minimalist works, Stella has explored various styles and themes throughout his career and artistic journey. One notable series by Frank Stella is the "Gadya" series, which he created in the late 1980s.

Consisting of a group of prints and sculptures, the “Gadya” series draws inspiration from the traditional Jewish Passover song called "Had Gadya," which recounts a fable-like story. Stella's interest in this song and its narrative structure led him to create a body of work that combines abstraction, color, and intricate compositions.

The "Gadya" series marked a departure from Stella's earlier minimalist approach, characterized by simple geometric shapes and monochromatic color palettes. In this series, Stella introduced more organic and curvilinear forms, vibrant colors, and complex layering techniques. The works display a dynamic energy, filled with movement and intricate interplay between shapes and colors.

One prominent aspect of the "Gadya" series is Stella's innovative use of collage and mixed media. He employed various materials such as handmade paper, relief, and metallic paints to create a tactile and textured surface. Stella's exploration of different materials adds depth and dimension to his works, enhancing the overall visual experience.

Each piece in the "Gadya" series showcases Stella's mastery of composition and his ability to create visually captivating arrangements. The works are composed of overlapping shapes, lines, and forms, creating a sense of depth and spatial complexity. Stella's use of bold colors and contrasting hues adds to the visual impact, evoking a vibrant and lively atmosphere.

While the series retains elements of abstraction, it also incorporates figurative and narrative elements. Stella's works reference the characters and themes from the Passover song, though the narratives are fragmented and open to interpretation. The series reflects Stella's interest in exploring the relationship between abstraction and storytelling, bridging the gap between the conceptual and the representational.

Stella's "Gadya" series received critical acclaim and further established his reputation as a versatile and innovative artist. The works were exhibited in various galleries and museums around the world, garnering attention for their vibrant compositions and fusion of abstraction and narrative elements.

This series stands as a testament to Frank Stella's artistic evolution and his ability to push boundaries within his practice. It showcases his willingness to experiment with new techniques, materials, and concepts while remaining true to his artistic vision. The series represents a departure from Stella's minimalist beginnings and demonstrates his ongoing exploration of form, color, and storytelling.

Catalogue Raisonné & COA:

Frank Stella Then Came a Stick and Beat the Dog, 1984 from Illustrations After El Lissitzky's Had Gadya is fully documented and referenced in the below catalogue raisonnés and texts (copies will be enclosed as added documentation with the invoices that will accompany the sale of the work).

1. Axsom, Richard H. The Prints of Frank Stella: A Catalogue Raisonné. New York: Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, 2016. Frank Stella Then Came a Stick and Beat the Dog, 1984, from Illustrations After El Lissitzky's Had Gadya, Listed and illustrated as catalogue raisonné no. 174.
2. Stella, Frank. Illustrations after El Lissitzky’s Had Gadya 1982–1984. London: Waddington Graphics, 1985. Frank Stella Then Came a Stick and Beat the Dog, 1984, from Illustrations After El Lissitzky's Had Gadya, Listed and illustrated as plate no.4.
3. A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany our Frank Stella Then Came a Stick and Beat the Dog, 1984, from Illustrations After El Lissitzky's Had Gadya.

About the Framing:

Framed to museum-grade, conservation standards Frank Stella Then Came a Stick and Beat the Dog, 1984 from Illustrations After El Lissitzky's Had Gadya is presented in a complementary moulding, mats and optical grade Plexiglas.

Subject Matter: Contemporary Biblical Animals