Fresh from his Whitney Museum of American Art retrospective in 2015, Frank Stella’s soaring popularity sees the opening of his first solo show with Sprüth Magers at their Berlin gallery. The exhibition combines work from his Polish Village Series and a series he completed in the 2000s known as his Bali Series.
His Polish Village Series, completed in the early 1970s, marked an important shift in the artist’s practice as it showcases his initial experimentations with relief—a technique that went radically against the flatness Stella’s painting had previously adhered. The series takes its inspiration from Polish Jewish sacral architecture that was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II. Each work, (pictured above) is named after a Polish town where one of the destroyed wooden synagogues was located.
The Bali Series demonstrates the artist’s continued and vibrant development of relief and 3-dimensionality, and is also an exploration into culture—this time drawing inspiration from the work of anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson on the island of Bali in Indonesia. These works reveal the artist’s insatiable hunger for new inspirations, but also, according to Dr. Artur Tanikowski, proof of his development with “regards to the transformation of curvilinear forms produced using the latest materials.” He goes on to add that the seemingly lightweight elegance of the works are “reminiscent of haywire machinery.”
The entire exhibition gives a fascinating insight into Stella’s material and technical innovations, charting the time when the artist began using less rigid material and even methods of deep relief by incorporating box-like forms in his work. All the works featured in the show are the product of Stella’s diverse approach to the conventions of illusionistic and literal space, not just from a pictorial viewpoint but also from the architectural and sculptural.
The exhibition “Frank Stella” at Sprüth Magers runs from the 8th of July through to the 3rd of September, 2016.