Frank Stella

Frank Stella (1936, Malden, MA, USA – 2024, West Village, NY, USA).

Frank Stella is one of the most defining figures of American art, whose work has been at the forefront of post-painterly abstraction, minimalism and public art for over seven decades.

Stella pursued painting at Phillips Academy in Andover and Princeton University. In 1958, he relocated to New York City and developed an interest in Abstract Expressionism, exploring the works of Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns, and Hans Hoffman.

His initial breakthrough came with a series of monochromatic pinstriped paintings known as ‘The Black Paintings.’ These works, considered precursors to Minimalism, gained immediate recognition and were exhibited in New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s Sixteen Americans exhibition in 1959 alongside works by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Shortly thereafter, the museum’s director, Alfred Barr, acquired four of Stella’s paintings for the permanent collection.

In 1960, Stella presented his series of shaped paintings called ‘The Aluminum Paintings’ at his first solo exhibition held at the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York. The following year, his works were exhibited internationally for the first time at Galerie Lawrence in Paris.

During the mid-1960s, Stella delved into printmaking, producing a series of abstract prints using techniques such as lithography, screen printing, etching, and offset lithography. Through working in series, he introduced new approaches to form, color, narrative, and abstraction. His works emphasized the idea of the picture as an object rather than a representation of something tangible or emotional.

Stella’s innovative art gained recognition before he reached the age of 25. In 1970, at the age of 34, he became the youngest artist to receive a full-scale retrospective at MoMA. In an unprecedented move, he was granted a second retrospective at the same institution in 1987.

In the 1970s, Stella incorporated relief into his art, referring to it as “maximalist” painting due to its sculptural qualities. He began utilizing materials such as wood, aluminum, fiberglass, and more, resulting in three-dimensional artwork, including large, freestanding metal pieces.

In the 1990s, Stella began making free-standing sculptures for public spaces and developing architectural projects. In 1992 and 1993, he painted over 10,000 square feet of murals that run throughout Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theater and are believed to be one of the largest mural installations of modern times. In 1997, Frank Stella created Euphonia, more than 6,000 square feet of mural painting that decorates the entrance wall and ceiling of the University of Houston’s Moores Opera Center. One of his largest outdoor sculptures, Prinz Friedrich von Homburg, Ein Schauspiel, 3X, was completed and installed in 2001 at the National Gallery of Art (Washington DC, USA).

Stella continually pushed the boundaries of post-war modern art and abstraction. From the geometric forms and simple lines in his early works to vibrant colors, dynamic and curved shapes, complex networks of line and 3-D designs of his baroque and even fantastical late pieces, he continues creating revolutionary and groundbreaking art.

Frank Stella is the author of many essays and articles exploring painting and abstract art. He has received numerous international honors and awards and has been the subject of several retrospectives, including an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2015. In 2000, Stella became the sole American artist to have a solo show at London’s Royal Academy of Arts.

Frank Stella

  • Frank Stella - The Duel B

    The Duel B
    2001
    Acrylic on canvas
    473 x 440 cm

  • Frank Stella - The Duel E

    The Duel E
    2001
    Acrylic on canvas
    485x 466 cm