Frank Stella (born 1936) is an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker. As a founding figure of the Minimalism and Color Field movements, Stella is recognized for his sharp departure from Abstract Expressionism. Stella’s nonrepresentational paintings allow the essential elements of his artistic practice—such as line, volume, and plane—to dominate the composition. Well known for his so-called “Black Paintings,” Stella’s innovative early work served as an important predecessor to the industrial and geometric starkness of Minimalism in the 1960s. However, after 1965 Stella broke with the stark demands of that style and embarked on a path toward more elaborate or “baroque” works known as “Maximalism.” This exploration dominated Stella’s practice during the 1980s and 1990s. During which time, Stella produced works that incorporate rich color and extrapolate in three dimensions that which he had mastered in two.
Frank Stella was born in Massachusetts in 1936. He attended high school at Phillips Academy and continued his education at Princeton University, studying history. By 1958 he moved to New York City, earning a living as a house painter. However, he quickly took the art world by storm. Before the age of 25, Stella had already been recognized for his unique style and avant-garde approach. His “Black Paintings,” an early series, attracted attention as a departure from the dominant style of Abstract Expressionism. In 1961 he married Barbara Rose who would become a well-known art critic.
In addition to his support of other radical modernists shown in his gallery, Leo Castelli was a key promoter of Stella’s work through the 1960s. During that decade, Stella also explored complex printmaking and set design. The Museum of Modern Art, New York held a retrospective for Stella in 1970. The show subsequently traveled to the Tate Gallery, London and the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Stella’s work became more vibrant and intricate. The idea of relief found its way into Stella’s work, developing into the so-called “Maximalist” works, which began to combine painting with a sculptural structure. This exploration eventually led to even greater depth in his works during the 1990s. Stella ultimately created large-scale freestanding sculptures, assisted by a combination of hand tools and digital technology. These sculptures were often placed in public spaces including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Stella’s impressive oeuvre has earned a vast array of awards and accolades. In 1981 Stella was awarded the Skowhegan Medal for Painting. In 1982 he won the Mayor of New York Award of Honor. In 1984 he received an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from Princeton University. The following year he was recognized with the Award of American Art from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Also in 1985, Stella was awarded an honorary degree from Dartmouth College. In 1992, he won the Barnard Medal of Distinction, and, in 1998 he received the Gold Medal for Graphic Art from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Most recently, Stella received the 2009 Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.
Stella lives and works in New York City.
2013 – “Pictures of Nothing,” The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Poughkeepsie, New York
2013 – “Over, Under, Next: Experiments in Mixed Media, 1913–present,” Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
2012 – “Frank Stella,” Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany
2012 – “Frank Stella: Selected Prints 1974-1982,” Greenfield Sacks Gallery, Santa Monica, California
2011 – “Frank Stella,” Haunch of Venison, London, United Kingdom
2011 – “Frank Stella: 75 Years Anniversary Show,” Galerie Jamileh Weber, Zurich, Switzerland
2010 – “Frank Stella: Irregular Polygons,” Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, New Hampshire
2010 – “Frank Stella,” Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm, Sweden
2009 – “Frank Stella: Exotic Birds, 1976,” L&M Arts, New York, New York
2008 – “Polygons to Printmaking: The Work of Frank Stella, 1958-1997” Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey
2008 – “Frank Stella Prints, 1980-2008,” Loretta Howard Gallery, New York, New York
2007 – “Frank Stella,” Galerie Haas & Fuchs, Berlin, Germany
2007 – “Frank Stella: Painting into Architecture,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York
2006 – “Frank Stella: 1958,” The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas
2005 – “Frank Stella: Serie Moby Dick,” MALBA Colección Costantini, Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
2005 – “Frank Stella: New Work,” Waddington Custot Galleries, London, United Kingdom
2004 – “What You See Is What You See: Frank Stella and the Anderson Collection at SFMOMA,” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, SFMOMA, San Francisco, California
2004 – “Frank Stella: A Breakthrough In Abstraction, Exotic Birds,” Gagosian Gallery , New York, New York
2003 – Iwate Museum of Art, Morioka, Japan
2003 – The Nagoya City Art Museum, Nagoya, Japan
2002 – Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York City, New York
2001 – “Frank Stella,” Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Stanford, California
2001 – “Prince of Homburg,” Installation on the lawn of the National Gallery, Washington D.C.
2000 – “Frank Stella at 2000: Changing the Rules,” Museum of Contemporary Art Miami, Miami, Florida
2000 – “The American Century: Art & Culture 1900-2000,” Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, New York
1999 – “The American Century: Art & Culture 1900-2000,” Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, New York
1999 – “Frank Stella at 2000: Changing the Rules,” Museum of Contemporary Art Miami, Florida
1999 – “Frank Stella: Easel Paintings,” Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London, United Kingdom
1999 – “Frank Stella: New Work,” Sperone, Westwater, New York
1999 – “Abstraction,” Galerie Daniel, Templon, Paris
1999 – “Drawing is Another Kind of Language,” Parrish Art Museum, Harvard Museums Southampton
1998 – “Rendez-vous,” Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York, New York
1998 – “Frank Stella: Smoke Rings,” Knoedler & Company, New York, New York
1998 – “Frank Stella: New Paintings,” Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London, United Kingdom
1987 – “Retrospective,” Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
1985 – “Actual Size: An Exhibition of Small Paintings and Sculptures,” Larry Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1984 – “Resource/Response/Reservoir: Stella Survey 1959-1982, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
1984 Blam! The Explosion of Pop, Minimalism, and Performance 1958-1964,” Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York
1981 – “George Bellows, Franz Kline, Barnett Newman, Frank Stella, and Andy Warhol,” Holly Solomon Gallery, New York, New York
1979 – “Frank Stella: The Indian Bird Maquettes,” Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
1979 – “Works on Paper,” Knoedler Gallery, London, United Kingdom
1978 – “Three Generations: Studies in Collage,” Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles, California
1974 – “America on Paper,” Galerie Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland
1971 – John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, California
1970 – Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York
1964 – “The Classic Spirit in 20th Century Art: Painters and Sculptors from Brancisi and Mondrian to Today,” Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, New York
1962 – “John Chamberlain/Frank Stella,” Leo Castelli gallery, New York, New York
1960 – “New American Painting,” Galerie Neufville, Paris, France
1959 – “Opening of the New Gallery,” Leo castelli Gallery, New York, New York
The New York Times – “Laying the Tracks Others Followed” by Roberta Smith
Youtube – “Masters Series: An Evening with Frank Stella” from Toledo Museum