Preservation Magazine, Fall 2018

Measuring 10 Feet Tall, This Frank Stella Painting Is A Must-See At The Glass House

Hagmatana III at The Glass House

photo by: Andy Romer

A simple protractor helped artist Frank Stella create the perfect semicircular forms in his aptly named Protractor series of paintings. Stella used the instrument to draw small-scale versions of his designs before transferring them to much larger canvases, using a compass-like device he fashioned himself.

He began this series in 1967, creating three different design variations on 31 canvas formats (for 93 paintings total), and named many of them after the circular cities he visited in the Middle East in 1963.

One of these paintings, Hagmatana III (named after an archaeological mound containing the ruins of an ancient city on the site of present-day Hamedan, Iran), is part of the permanent collection at The Glass House, a National Trust Historic Site in New Canaan, Connecticut. The site’s original owner and architect, Philip Johnson, was a longtime friend of the artist and a supporter of his work. Today there are 18 paintings, sculptures, and multimedia works by Stella at The Glass House.

His presence is felt even beyond the gallery walls: The final building Johnson designed on his 49-acre property, Da Monsta, was built in 1995 as an ode to Stella, inspired by a model the artist made for an unbuilt structure in Germany.

Before The Glass House opened to the public in June of 2007, Hagmatana III, which measures 10 feet tall and 15 feet wide, underwent a full conservation by Luca Bonetti. It is currently on display in The Glass House’s Painting Gallery.

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Lauren Walser headshot

Lauren Walser served as the Los Angeles-based field editor of Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about art, architecture, and public space, and hopes to one day restore her very own Arts and Crafts-style bungalow.

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