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Contemporary art

Western art

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Khurasan Gate variation II



Frank Stella

United States of America

12 May 1936 -


Immense in scale and rigorous in geometric ordering, 'Khurasan gate variation II' is a major achievement of American minimalist painting. Part of Stella's Protractor series, in which he pushed the genre of the easel picture to architectural dimensions, the work exists both as surface and as solid object. Indeed, the shaped canvases he devised in the 1960s, and continued thereafter to explore, can be seen as attempts to annex sculptural space for two-dimensional practice. Having begun his career in abstract expressionism, the then internationally dominant style, Stella went on to make his reputation with a series of all-black paintings that took their form from the edge of the canvas. The system of repeated striping used in these works has the effect of excluding figural and compositional references, a strategy that was to influence the course of twentieth century art through Donald Judd and other minimalists. For Stella and Judd, the new American painting represented a complete break with the European past. Of all the abstract painters who rose to prominence during this period - among them Morris Louis, also represented in the collection by a major work - Stella has proven the most inventive and enduring. The astonishing visual impact of 'Khurasan gate' goes a long way towards explaining this.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999.




Media category


Materials used

synthetic polymer paint on canvas


304.8 x 914.4 x 7.6 cm stretcher

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 1977

Accession number


Artist information

Frank Stella

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

  • Frank Stella, David Mirvish Gallery, Toronto, 08 Apr 1971–27 Apr 1971

Referenced in 3 publications


Anthony Bond, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Contemporary', pg. 94-108, Sydney, 1988, 95 (colour illus.), 96.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 69 (colour illus.).

Susan Lee (Editor), Art investigator, 'Action and Reaction' - Hard Edge Painting', pg. 216-217, Port Melbourne, 1998, 217 (colour illus.).