- Frank Stella
bgcolour = #6495ED
name = Frank Stella
imagesize = 200px
caption = 1964 photo of Frank Stella by
birthdate = 1936
nationality = American
Painting, Printmaking, Sculpture, Architecture
Modernism, Minimal Art, Abstract Expressionism, Geometric abstraction, Abstract Illusionism, Lyrical Abstraction, Hard-edge painting, Shaped canvaspainting, Color field painting
influenced by =
Caravaggio, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, Barnett Newman, Jasper Johns
Frank Gehry, several generations of Abstract painters
awards = 1984
Harvard University Charles Eliot Nortonlectures
Frank Stella (born
May 12, 1936) is an American painter and printmaker. He is a significant figure in minimalismand post-painterly abstraction. He was born in Malden, Massachusetts. After attending high school at Phillips Academyin Andover, Massachusetts, he went on to Princeton University, where he painted, influenced by the abstract expressionismof Jackson Pollockand Franz Kline, and majored in history. Early visits to New York art galleries would prove to be an influence upon his artistic development. Stella moved to New York in 1958 after his graduation. He is one the most well-regarded postwar American painters who still works today. Frank Stella has reinvented himself in consecutive bodies of work over the course of his five-decade career. citation | title= Frank Stella | author=William Hanley | publisher=ARTINFO | year=2008 | date= January 17, 2008 | url= http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/25134/frank-stella/| accessdate=2008-04-17 ]
Late 1950s and early 1960s
Upon moving to
New York City, he reacted against the expressive use of paint by most painters of the abstract expressionist movement, instead finding himself drawn towards the "flatter" surfaces of Barnett Newman's work and the "target" paintings of Jasper Johns. He began to produce works which emphasized the picture-as-object, rather than the picture as a representation of something, be it something in the physical world, or something in the artist's emotional world. Stella married Barbara Rose, later a well-known art critic, in 1961. Around this time he said that a picture was "a flat surface with paint on it - nothing more". This was a departure from the technique of creating a painting by first making a sketch. Many of the works are created by simply using the path of the brush stroke, very often using common house paint.
This new aesthetic found expression in a series of paintings, the Black Paintings (60) in which regular bands of black paint were separated by very thin pinstripes of unpainted canvas. "Die Fahne Hoch!" (1959) is one such painting. It takes its name ("The flag on high" in English) from the first line of the
Horst-Wessel-Lied, the anthem of the National Socialist German Workers Party, and Stella pointed out that it is in the same proportions as banners used by that organization. It has been suggested that the title has a double meaning, referring also to Jasper Johns' paintings of flags. In any case, its emotional coolness belies the contentiousness its title might suggest, reflecting this new direction in Stella's work. Stella’s art was recognized for its innovations before he was twenty-five. In 1959, several of his paintings were included in "Three Young Americans" at the Allen Memorial Art Museumat Oberlin College, as well as in "Sixteen Americans" at the Museum of Modern Artin New York (60). Stella joined dealer Leo Castelli’s stable of artists in 1959. From 1960 he began to produce paintings in aluminumand copperpaint which, in their presentation of regular lines of color separated by pinstripes, are similar to his black paintings. However they use a wider range of colors, and are his first works using shaped canvases (canvases in a shape other than the traditional rectangle or square), often being in L, N, U or T-shapes. These later developed into more elaborate designs, in the "Irregular Polygon" series (67), for example.
Also in the 3589s, Stella began to use a wider range of colors, typically arranged in straight or curved lines. Later he began his "Protractor Series" (71) of paintings, in which arcs, sometimes overlapping, within square borders are arranged side-by-side to produce full and half circles painted in rings of concentric color. These paintings are named after circular cities he had visited while in the
Middle Eastearlier in the 1960s. The Irregular Polygon canvases and Protractor series further extended the concept of the shaped canvas.
Late 1960s and early 1970s
Stella began his extended engagement with printmaking in the mid-1960s, working first with master printer Kenneth Tyler at Gemini G.E.L. Stella produced a series of prints during the late 1960s starting with a print called "Quathlamba I" in 1968. Stella's abstract prints in lithography, screenprinting, etching and offset lithography (a technique he introduced) had a strong impact upon printmaking as an art.
In 1967, Stella designed the set and costumes for Scramble, a dance piece by
Merce Cunningham. The Museum of Modern Artin New York presented a retrospective of Stella’s work in 1970, making him the youngest artist to receive one. During the following decade, Stella introduced relief into his art, which he came to call “maximalist” painting for its sculptural qualities. Ironically, the paintings that had brought him fame before 1960 had eliminated all such depth. The shaped canvases took on even less regular forms in the "Eccentric Polygon" series, and elements of collagewere introduced, pieces of canvas being pasted onto plywood, for example. His work also became more three-dimensional to the point where he started producing large, free-standing metal pieces, which, although they are painted upon, might well be considered sculpture. After introducing woodand other materials in the Polish Village series (73), created in high relief, he began to use aluminumas the primary support for his paintings. As the 1970s and 1980s progressed, these became more elaborate and exuberant. Indeed, his earlier Minimalism [more] became baroque, marked by curving forms, Day-Glocolors, and scrawled brushstrokes. Similarly, his prints of these decades combined various printmaking and drawing techniques. In 1973, he had a print studio installed in his New York house.
1980s and afterward
From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, Stella created a large body of work that responded in a general way to
Herman Melville’s " Moby-Dick." During this time, the increasingly deep relief of Stella’s paintings gave way to full three-dimensionality, with sculptural forms derived from cones, pillars, French curves, waves, and decorative architectural elements. To create these works, the artist used collages or maquettes that were then enlarged and re-created with the aid of assistants, industrial metal cutters, and digital technologies.
In the 1990s, Stella began making free-standing sculpture for public spaces and developing architectural projects. In 1993, for example, he created the entire decorative scheme for
Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre, which includes a 10,000-square-foot mural. His 1993 proposal for a kunsthalle and garden in Dresden did not come to fruition. His aluminumbandshell, inspired by a folding hat from Brazil, was built in downtown Miamiin 2001; a monumental Stella sculpture was installed outside the National Gallery of Artin Washington, D.C.
Stella’s work was included in several important exhibitions that defined 1960s art, among them the
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s The Shaped Canvas (1965) and Systemic Painting (1966). His art has been the subject of several retrospectives in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Among the many honors he has received was an invitation from Harvard Universityto give the Charles Eliot Nortonlectures in 1984. Calling for a rejuvenation of abstraction by achieving the depth of baroque painting, these six talks were published by Harvard University Pressin 1986.
Stella continues to live and work in New York. He also remains active in protecting the rights for his fellow artists. On June 6, 2008, Stella (with
Artists Rights Societypresident Theodore Feder; Stella is a member artist of the Artists Rights Societyhttp://arsny.com/requested.html | Artists Rights Society's List of Most Frequently Requested Artists] ) published an Op-Ed for the "The Art Newspaper" decrying a proposed U.S. Orphan Works law which "remove [s] the penalty for copyright infringement if the creator of a work, after a diligent search, cannot be located."
In the Op-Ed, Stella wrote,
cquote|The Copyright Office presumes that the infringers it would let off the hook would be those who had made a "good faith, reasonably diligent" search for the copyright holder. Unfortunately, it is totally up to the infringer to decide if he has made a good faith search. Bad faith can be shown only if a rights holder finds out about the infringement and then goes to federal court to determine whether the infringer has failed to conduct an adequate search. Few artists can afford the costs of federal litigation: attorneys’ fees in our country vastly exceed the licencing fee for a typical painting or drawing.
The Copyright Office proposal would have a disproportionately negative, even catastrophic, impact on the ability of painters and illustrators to make a living from selling copies of their work... It is deeply troubling that government should be considering taking away their principal means of making ends meet—their copyrights. [http://www.theartnewspaper.com/article.asp?id=8580 "The Art Newspaper" "The proposed new law is a nightmare for artists" by Frank Stella. June 6, 2008] ]
*Busch, Julia M., University ISBN 0-87982-007-1
* Frank Stella and Franz-Joachim Verspohl: "The Writings of Frank Stella. Die Schriften Frank Stellas", Verlag der Buchhandlung König, 2001; ISBN-10: 3883754870, ISBN-13: 978-3883754871 (bilingual)
* Frank Stella and Franz-Joachim Verspohl: "Heinrich von Kleist by Frank Stella", Verlag der Buchhandlung König, 2001; ISBN-10: 3883754889, ISBN-13: 978-3883754888 (bilingual)
* [http://www.artnet.com/artist/16079/frank-stella.html Works of art, auction & sale results, exhibitions, and artist information for Frank Stella on artnet]
* [http://www.guggenheimcollection.org/site/artist_bio_148.html] "Guggenheim Museum online Biography of Frank Stella"
* [http://www.mirvish.com/OurTheatres/murals Stella mural installation, Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto]
* [http://www.amazon.com/Frank-Stella-Illustrated-Sidney-Guberman/dp/0847818438] "Frank Stella: An Illustrated Biography by Sidney Guberman"
* [http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/findingaids/stelfran.htm Frank Stella Papers at the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art]
* [http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/25134/frank-stella/ Interview with Frank Stella]
* [http://vernissage.tv/blog/2008/09/02/frank-stella-scarlatti-and-bali-sculpture-series-paracelsus-building-st-moritz/ Frank Stella: Scarlatti and Bali Sculpture Series / Paracelsus Building, St. Moritz.] Video at VernissageTV.
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