Follow Our Journey: Big Man On Campus

Stella_Raqqa II_BIG

Frank Philip Stella, Raqqa II, American, 1970, synthetic polymer and graphite on canvas,120 x 300 in., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Hanes, © 2009 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

It’s difficult being popular. I know, I know. Those who aren’t quite as popular as me may not see this. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy being the big man on campus. I love having my picture everywhere—posters, brochures, post cards, the internet. I adore the groups of children who hover in front of me, whispering, chatting, even shouting out of turn in their school groups. I relish the audible gasp of first-time visitors as they round the corner and are taken aback by my size, my shape, my striking colors—the simple dominance of my presence. What I like most about being so remarkable is that people remember me. When they think of this place, when they recall what they have seen here, whether it was last year or 20 years ago, I come to mind. On return visits, they come to see me and there I am, just as they remember.

But all this fame and glory comes at a price. I am always on the job. From the day the doors opened here on Blue Ridge Road, I have never been anywhere other than hanging right on my wall. Can you believe that? There is simply no where for me to go for a respite—no storage space big enough, no corridor of size for me to squeeze down. I was once enclosed in a wall to cover me up for a special exhibition on flight (that was not fun) but other than that, I’ve never been off-view.

Stella_Raqqa II_littleSo I faithfully hang in my gallery, removed only for the occasional cleaning and inspection (which is a grand occasion in itself, but we’ll chat about that later on). So I have to admit I have been looking forward to my journey to the new gallery building for quite some time. I’ll fill you in on that as well as where I was before I came to the NCMA almost 30 years ago. While it is difficult being the largest painting in our collection, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

This post is part of the series Follow Our Journey. Follow Raqqa II and six other works of art on the Big Move to the Museum’s new building.

One Comment

  1. Joseph Stella
    Posted November 3, 2009 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Dear Raqqa II, children should be seen and not heard.

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  1. [...] my gallery, my very own gallery. That is, if you don’t count the Shapiro. And I don’t. Stella was carried out to God-knows-where weeks ago. That one was just too horribly cheerful. And the [...]

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