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Frank Stella Biography
American Abstract Artist Frank Stella was born in Malden, MA in 1936. Frank Stella is a highly regarded and collected Abstract artist known for his large–scale freestanding sculptures, architectural structures, and the most complex original prints ever realized in the medium of printmaking.
Frank Stella began painting in his sophomore year of high school at the Philips Academy in Andover, MA. Stella continued taking fine art courses at Princeton University, while majoring in history. While in school, Frank Stella visited numerous influential art exhibitions in the galleries of New York City. Frank Stella´s artistic development was directly shaped by the Abstract Expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, and in 1958 Stella moved to New York.
Upon moving to New York City, Stella 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 art and the "Target" paintings by Jasper Johns. Stella gained early and immediate recognition in 1959 with his series of black pinstriped paintings that turned the gestural brushwork and existential angst of Abstract Expressionism on its head. Several of Frank Stella´s "black paintings" were included in major art exhibitions including: "Three Young Americans" at the Allen Memorial Museum at Oberlin College, and "Sixteen Americans" at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. The Black Paintings served as an important catalyst for Minimalist art of the 1960s.
In 1959 Frank Stella joined fine art dealer Leo Castelli´s gallery of artists, and in 1960 Stella began painting artworks in aluminum and copper paint as well. Stella´s art aesthetic steadily developed as he introduced a wider range of colors, typically arranged in straight or curved lines. Stella eventually created his paintings on shaped canvases (canvases in a shape other than the traditional rectangle or square), often being in L, N, U or T–shapes. In 1965 Frank Stella´s art was included in "The Shaped Canvas" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and "Systemic Painting" of 1966. Stella´s shape canvases developed into more elaborate designs, in the Irregular Polygon series of 1967.
In 1971 Stella developed his Protractor Series, 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 East. Frank Stella´s Irregular Polygon canvases and Protractor Series further extended the concept of the shaped canvas. The shaped canvases took on even less regular forms in the Eccentric Polygon series as elements of collage were introduced. Stella´s artwork became more three–dimensional to the point where he started producing large, free–standing metal wall sculptures. As the 1970s and 1980s progressed, these became more elaborate and exuberant, marked by curving forms, Day–Glo colors, and scrawled brushstrokes. From the mid–1980s to the mid–1990s, Stella created a large body of paintings, sculptures, and original prints that responded in a general way to Herman Melville´s Moby–Dick.
Starting in the mid–1960s Frank Stella launched his extended involvement with printmaking, working first with master printer Kenneth Tyler at Gemini G.E.L. Stella would continue to produce original prints for the duration of his artistic career, and in 1973 he had a print studio installed in his New York house. Frank Stella's abstract prints in lithography, screenprinting, etching and offset lithography had a strong impact upon printmaking as a fine art.
Additionally Frank Stella is heralded for his large free–standing sculptures for public spaces from the 1990´s including: the 10,000–square–foot mural for Toronto´s Princess of Wales Theatre; his 5,000–square–foot "Stella Project" which serves as the centerpiece of the theater and lobby of the Moores Opera House on the campus of the University of Houston, in Houston, TX; and Frank Stella´s monumental sculpture was installed outside the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Frank Stella's virtually relentless experimentation has made him a key figure in American modernism, helping give rise to such developments as Minimalism, Post–Painterly Abstraction, and Color Field painting. In 2009 Frank Stella was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama, and in 2011 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture by the International Sculpture Center. Frank Stella continues to live and work in New York.
"A sculpture is just a painting cut out and stood up somewhere." – Frank Stella
Select Museum Collections:
Art Institute of Chicago Guggenheim Museum, New York Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, DC Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Modern Art, New York Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena Whitney Museum of American Art, New York San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Tate Gallery, London