Gabin I, 1971, is part of the Polish Village series made by Frank Stella between 1970-73. Each work is named after a Polish city whose old synagogues, some from the 18th century, were burned by the Nazis. Ideologically, the series references more than just the destruction of buildings but the obliteration of an entire culture. Formally the series is a study of synthesizing Stella's earlier series, Irregular Polygons, with the study of early Modernism, specifically elements of Cubism and Russian constructivism. Essentially, this work represents a time when Stella was reflecting back upon the art and ideas in both his own oeuvre and art history in order to move forward.
A statement by the Russian Constructivist Kasmir Malevich earlier in the century illuminates the formalist challenges that Stella pursued in this series. Malevich said: "Thus we see now technical means of penetrating into the purely painterly picture, and these means may already be called 'engineering' such an engineering method of constructing our artistic picture as distinguished from other utilitarian constructions, we may call an 'artistic construction'" (P. Leider, Stella Since 1970, exh. cat., Fort Worth Art Museum, 1978, p. 95).