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Stella’s early works, such as Gray Scramble, react against the loose, gestural and loaded brushstroke associated with Abstract Expressionism. This rigorously geometric painting has no underlying meaning or narrative. “What you see is what you see,” said the artist. For him, a painting meant plainly “a flat surface with paint on it.” Gray Scramble belongs to Stella’s series of compositions of concentric squares, which explore color values. Here, the systematic arrangement alternates, or ‘scrambles’, the colored squares that brighten in hue towards the center, and are framed by contradictory gray squares that become instead progressively darker, even black.