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Frank Stella - 1972

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Uploaded on Aug 1, 2008

Frank Stella (born May 12, 1936) is an American painter and printmaker. He is a significant figure in minimalism and post-painterly abstraction. He was born in Malden, Massachusetts. After attending high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, he went on to Princeton University, where he painted, influenced by the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, and majored in history. Stella moved to New York in 1958 after his graduation. He is one the most well-regarded postwar American painters who still works today. Frank Stella has reinvented himself in consecutive bodies of work over the course of his five-decade career. pon moving to New York City, he reacted against the expressive use of paint by most painters of the abstract expressionist movement, instead finding himself drawn towards the "flatter" surfaces of Barnett Newman's work and the "target" paintings of Jasper Johns. He began to produce works which emphasized the picture-as-object, rather than the picture as a representation of something, be it something in the physical world, or something in the artist's emotional world. Stella married Barbara Rose, later a well-known art critic, in 1961. This was a departure from the technique of creating a painting by first making a sketch. This new aesthetic found expression in a series of paintings, the Black Paintings (60) in which regular bands of black paint were separated by very thin pinstripes of unpainted canvas. Die Fahne Hoch! (1959) is one such painting. It takes its name ("The flag on high" in English) from the first line of the Horst-Wessel-Lied, the anthem of the National Socialist German Workers Party, and Stella pointed out that it is in the same proportions as banners used by that organization. In any case, its emotional coolness belies the contentiousness its title might suggest, reflecting this new direction in Stella's work. Stella's art was recognized for its innovations before he was twenty-five. In 1959, several of his paintings were included in "Three Young Americans" at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, as well as in "Sixteen Americans" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (60). Stella joined dealer Leo Castelli's stable of artists in 1959. From 1960 he began to produce paintings in aluminum and copper paint which, in their presentation of regular lines of color separated by pinstripes, are similar to his black paintings. However they use a wider range of colors, and are his first works using shaped canvases (canvases in a shape other than the traditional rectangle or square), often being in L, N, U or T-shapes. These later developed into more elaborate designs, in the Irregular Polygon series (67), for example. Also in the 1960s, Stella began to use a wider range of colors, typically arranged in straight or curved lines. Later he began his Protractor Series (71) of paintings, in which arcs, sometimes overlapping, within square borders are arranged side-by-side to produce full and half circles painted in rings of concentric color. These paintings are named after circular cities he had visited while in the Middle East earlier in the 1960s. The Irregular Polygon canvases and Protractor series further extended the concept of the shaped canvas. Stella began his extended engagement with printmaking in the mid-1960s, working first with master printer Kenneth Tyler at Gemini G.E.L. Stella produced a series of prints during the late 1960s starting with a print called Quathlamba I in 1968. Stella's abstract prints in lithography, screenprinting, etching and offset lithography (a technique he introduced) had a strong impact upon printmaking as an art.n 1967, Stella designed the set and costumes for Scramble, a dance piece by Merce Cunningham. The Museum of Modern Art in New York presented a retrospective of Stella's work in 1970, making him the youngest artist to receive one.
During the following decade, Stella introduced relief into his art, which he came to call "maximalist" painting for its sculptural qualities. Ironically, the paintings that had brought him fame before 1960 had eliminated all such depth. After introducing wood and other materials in the Polish Village series (73), created in high relief, he began to use aluminum as the primary support for his paintings. As the 1970s and 1980s progressed, these became more elaborate and exuberant. Indeed, his earlier Minimalism [more] became baroque, marked by curving forms, Day-Glo colors, and scrawled brushstrokes. Similarly, his prints of these decades combined various printmaking and drawing techniques. In 1973, he had a print studio installed in his New York house.

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