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Contemporary art

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Polar coordinates V, from the suite Polar coordinates for Ronnie Peterson



Frank Stella

United States of America

12 May 1936 -


In the spring of 1978, Stella began a new series of prints based on two configurations in the Saskatchewan paintings of 1967-70: ‘Flin-Flon’,a quatrefoil, and ‘Saskatoon’, a bisected quatrefoil rejoined in a circle. ‘Flin-Flon’ and ‘Saskatoon’ were each given four variations in the original print series, which was extended to include two variant ‘Flin-Flon’ editions.

The flat application of paint in the Saskatchewan paintings was radically altered in the prints by a free handling of colour drawing and the superimposition of grid systems. The grid, which had been used as a neutral background in earlier prints, now became a vital and active component in the Polar Co-ordinates ... The variety of grid systems in the series and the title itself stemmed from the artist’s playful interpretation of polar co-ordinates graph paper. Imagery is far more lively and ambiguous in the prints than in the paintings as transparent and translucent colour, calligraphic scrawling, and the grids themselves disintegrate form.

The prints are the result of numerous layers of lithography and screenprinting. Lithographic plates were drawn for the grids, outlines of shapes, and the distinctive, rapid-line drawing.

This print series was the first to differ in name from its corresponding painting series. The designation Polar Co-ordinates for Ronnie Peterson was derived from both the grid component and the name of a Swedish auto racer and friend of Stella who died in the Grand prix races at Monza in September 1978.
(Richard H. Axsom, ‘The Prints of Frank Stella. A Catalogue Raisonné’ 1967-1982)




Media category


Materials used

colour lithograph and screenprint


35/100. Edition of 100 + 20 AP


97.8 × 96.5 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r., pencil "... F. Stella '80".


Gift of Penelope Seidler AM in memory of Harry Seidler AC OBE 2014. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Frank Stella

Works in the collection


Referenced in 1 publication


Richard Axsom, The prints of Frank Stella: a catalogue raisonne 1967-1982, New York, 1983, 141. cat.123