Frank Stella (USA, 1936)
Illustrations after El Lissitzky's 'Had Gadya': A. Had Gadya: Front cover, CTPVI, 1985
Acrylic/vinyl paint and various print media on collaged paper
108 x 86 cm

Frank Stella spent two years creating twelve etchings for the series Had Gadya, which emerged from his visit to the Tel Aviv Museum in Israel in 1981. During a tour of the collection, he was shown one of the Museum’s most recent acquisitions, a set of eleven gouaches by the Russian avant-garde artist El Lissitzky (1890 - 1941). The gouaches were illustrations for the traditional Jewish Passover song Had Gadya. With these illustrations Lissitzky wanted to share his hopes of a better future in post-Czarist Russia and show his support for the revolutionary struggle. Stella was drawn to the simplicity of the Had Gadya narrative and Lissitzky’s graphic, stylized rendering of it.
In naming his project illustrations after El Lissitsky’s Had Gadya, Stella made direct reference to the narrative foundation that allowed him to maintain a figurative reality in his abstraction, without representation and avoiding pure geometry. It marked the beginning of pictorial research around the question of abstract narrative and the of a non-figurative language used for narrative purposes.
The artworks are signed and dated by the artist and bear the indication « CTP » (Color Trial Proof). This term is used by Frank Stella to designate unique works that are the result of various printing techniques on which he has reworked the pattern by hand. The chosen artworks present a delightful mix of techniques such as silkscreen, lithography, linocut, marbling and collage, on which the artist has painted.