Frank Stella

Biography of Frank Stella

American painter Frank Stella swept aside the existential angst of Abstract Expressionism with his rejection of traditional rectangular-shaped canvases and with his refusal to make any psychological or metaphysical references in his work. He has been instrumental in developing Minimalism and Color-Field painting as well as being an important figure in American Modernism.

 

Born in 1936 in Massachusetts Frank Stella attended Princeton University where he painted and majored in history. Drawn to the thriving artistic scene in New York in the late 50s, Stella settled there in 1958. Recognized early on, he joined the successful dealer Leo Castelli's roster of artists just one year later. Attempting to eradicate depth with his successful series Black Paintings, 1958-60, Stella conversely began to incorporate relief into his paintings for their sculptural qualities—a process he dubbed "maximalist". It was important to him that painting had the physical impact of sculpture, a concept that proved highly influential to many painters in the 70s and 80s.

 

In 1964 Stella participated in one of the most significant exhibitions of the decade entitled Shape and Structure. Casting aside illusionistic space and embracing the materiality of the flat surface, Stella would continually innovate and push the boundaries of art. A visionary limited edition and multiples maker, Frank Stella pushed the boundaries of what was possible and produced some of the most complicated and advanced prints ever made—he even had a print studio installed in his house in New York.

 

In 1970 MoMA in New York presented a huge retrospective of Stella's work which was followed in 2015 with one at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Stella is collected all over the world and is included in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, and the Menil Collection in Houston. In 1989, Frank Stella was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government and in 2009 the prestigious National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama himself. 

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