Skip to main content


Frank Stella

The Battering Ram


Lithograph, etching, aquatint,

relief, engraving, screenprint, collagraph

59-5/8″ x 35-5/8″ (151.4 x 90.5 cm)

Framed: 69-1/4″ x 44-1/2″ (175.9 x 113 cm)

Edition of 30

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