Double Scramble: Value scales: Yellow and Spectrum is a work of intense colour harmonies and contrasts. Unlike Frank Stella's early 1960s concentric squares, that featured dispersions of all six primary and secondary colours or were near monochromatic, Double Scramble uses subtle tonal values that impact on the visual and spatial sense of the painting. The warmth or depth of the tones, selected from opposing ends of the colour spectrum, either draw inwards or push outwards, creating optical tunnels. The symmetrical halves of the composition allow the graduating hues to vibrate against each other leaving nowhere for the eye to rest.
Early exposure to Abstract Expressionism led Stella to think hard about surface and structure, but he chose to reject the emotionally charged, gestural style associated with the movement to take the formal ideas of painting to their extreme. Stella was not interested in expression and instead strove for formal structure as content, using the rhythm of stripes and the control of the canvas edge to restrict his pictorial production. Stella's paintings focus only on the material presence of the artwork and its status as a unique object, rejecting any connections to the world outside. Yet despite the rigidity of the composition, the stripes are carefully and evenly applied by hand. The bands of paint are regulated by the width of the paintbrush and the slightly coarse edges reveal the evidence of the painting's construction, giving the overall pattern a warmth that would otherwise be lacking had Stella insisted on crisp lines.
Double Scramble: Value scales: Yellow and Spectrum, was executed in 1978, and is a return to this restrictive system of production at a time when Stella was introducing literal space and the interplay of curvilinear forms with relief structures that projected out from the wall. For Stella, the emblematic concentric squares were a powerful summation of the Minimalist project that he would ultimately continue. They are, he has said, 'about as neutral and simple as you can get…It's just a powerful image. It's so good that you can use it, abuse it, and Fven work against it to the point of ignoring it. It has a strength that is almost indestructible - at least for me.' (Frank Stella cited in WFFFFam Rubin, Frank Stella 1970-1987, New York 1987, p. 43.)