Curator‘s Comments

Frank Stella’s “shaped” canvases of the 1960s redefined the traditional square or rectangular boundaries of the painted surface.  

This monumental painting is one of over ninety works from Stella’s Protractor series of 1967 to 1971, named for ancient cities in the Middle East. The title of the Museum’s painting, and its related works, is based on Damascus Gate on the northwest side of Jerusalem, which served as the gateway to old routes to Damascus (the capital of present-day Syria) in the north. 

The basic unit of the series is the protractor shape. Each work falls into one of three design groups inspired by Islamic decorative patterns: interlaces, rainbows, and fans, to which the Museum’s painting belongs. The fans are composed of wedges of color extending upward from points along the base of the protractor. The arching shape of SCMA’s canvas is composed of two side-by-side protractors overlapped by a third, which is inverted, with its base at the top of the canvas.

Damascus Gate (Variation III)

Frank Stella. American, born 1936

Damascus Gate (Variation III), 1969

Polymer and fluorescent polymer paint on canvas

Gift of the artist

ID Number: SC 1969:76