"My Painting is based on the fact that only what can be seen there is there...If the painting were lean enough, accurate enough or right enough, you would just be able to look at it. All I want anyone to get out of my paintings, and all I ever get out of them, is the fact that you can see the whole idea without any confusion...What you see is what you see" (F. Stella quoted in W. Rubin, Frank Stella, New York, 1970, pp. 41-42).
W. Scramble: Ascending Violet Values/Ascending Spectrum is a work of intense and complex color harmonies and contrasts. Frank Stella's earliest Concentric Square paintings from 1962-1963 were about extremes, canvases featuring extreme ranges in contrast, or near monochromatic compositions with intermittent dispersions of all six primary and secondary colors -all contributing to highly vibrant surfaces with nowhere for the eye to rest. W. Scramble is pure visual poetry, a wonderfully fused amalgam of spectral-color and value progressions, revealing the mysteries and optics of light and color. W. Scramble grows out of the high western art historical traditition, specifically abstraction, but has echoes in more humble endeavors such as American quilting with its purity of design and the design's ability to provide structure for individual variation and improvisation. Similar symbols and patterns have developed independently of one another across time and beyond borders, exceptional patterns and designs sublimate very specific meaning and yet also speak clearly across cultural divides. W. Scramble and the Housetop style quilt by the Gee's Bend artist Qunnie Pettway circa 1975 (see fig.) share this aesthetic verisimilitude. Both works communicate through their shared virtue of purity and simplicity.
"Stella was able to make the fact that the literal shape determines the structure of the entire painting completely perspicuous. That is, although the shapes appear to generate the stripe-patterns, the prior decision to achieve deductive structure by means of this particular relation between the stripes and the framing-edge played an important role in determining the character of the shapes." (M. Fried quoted in W. Rubin, Frank Stella, New York, 1970, p. 55).
Frank Stella, along with Donald Judd and Kenneth Noland, took Modernism to its most pure and logical extreme while opening the door to new aesthetic possibilities by paring down their visual language to the barest of essentials. Working with modular forms and mathematical progressions, these artists were able to expand upon art's possibilities in ways that would help to define an era and extend its influence from art to design and from the regional to the transcendent. Stella's 1970s Concentric Squares such as W. Scramble are colorfully complex, and include a wide range of color and vibration.