Letters from Frank Stella (c.1964)
I managed to get enough diarrhea to get 1 day behind the Woodwards. Henry, my friend, nursed me through the ordeal. He is getting the Florence Nightingale award from Farah Diba.
We stayed in the Ex Point 4 guest house in Yazd. There was one good Mosque in Yazd with a very good bold geometric inside dome. The only other interesting thing there were the Zoroastrian fire temples but we couldn’t [get] inside them. We did, however, get a good look at the outside of the Towers of Silence (_________) on the edge of Town. It is on these towers that the Zoroastrians expose their dead to the sun. What happens, of course, is that the vultures come down + pick them apart. The moslems think that this is pretty disgusting. Since we were a day late getting into Yazd, I didn’t have much time in the Bazaar which is famous for its textiles. If I had a little more money I could have got some pretty interesting fabrics, as it was I got you 3 yds. of some nice rayon that purports to be silk. It should make a nice blouse.
We have been in Kerman half a day and have seen the major or community mosque + a _________ tomb just outside the city. They weren’t too interesting. I’m getting pretty tired of Islamic art. It’s very lacking in crisis content. The design of the tile patterns is interesting up to a point, but the way the different sections are plastered on the facades is not interesting. The color gets to be the same nearly everywhere. I would say that finally even in the best works, say at Isfahan + Yazd, the architecture + the decoration never get together. The best that happens is that you are stunned by the size + complexity of the tile work + are finally only really convinced by the interior spatial organization of the architecture. This added to some high moments of decorative invention, however, makes for some visual beauty that the west will never see.
Letters from Frank Stella, from the Barbara Rose papers at the Getty Research Institute.