Frank Stella

  • Born 1936 in Malden, MA, USA

Frank Stella pioneered both post-painterly abstraction in the 1960s and postmodernist art from the 1970s onward. He studied history at Princeton University, where he befriended the abstract painter Walter Darby Bannard (b. 1934) and art historian Michael Fried (b. 1939). Stella moved to New York in 1958 and, during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism, developed a cool painting style devoid of external reference. Stella’s “Black Paintings” of 1959 feature stripes of black house paint separated by thin bands of unprimed canvas. Fried described these paintings as “deductive,” with the shape of the canvas determining the patterning therein. Stella first showed these works in the exhibitions Three Americans (1959) at Oberlin College, Ohio, and Sixteen Americans (1960) at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1960 he began producing shaped “deductive” canvases, using aluminum and copper paints. In his later, brightly colored “Protractor” series, named after Middle Eastern cities, he overlaid brightly colored circular shapes. He showed widely in the 1960s, including at Documenta, Kassel (1968). In 1970, he became the youngest artist to receive a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. Since then his work took a “maximalist” turn, and he has incorporated three-dimensional, architectural, and Expressionist elements.

Artworks by Frank Stella in the exhibition