Frank Philip Stella (born May 12, 1936) is an American painter,
sculptor and printmaker, noted for his work in the areas of minimalism
and post-painterly abstraction. Stella lives and works in New York
2.1 Late 1950s and early 1960s
2.2 Late 1960s and early 1970s
2.3 1980s and afterward
3 Artists' rights
7 Art market
10 Selected bibliography
12 External links
Frank Stella was born in Malden, Massachusetts, to parents of
Italian descent. His father was a gynecologist, and his mother was an
artistically inclined housewife who attended a fashion school and
later took up landscape painting.
After attending high school at
Phillips Academy in Andover,
Massachusetts, where he learned about abstract modernists Josef Albers
and Hans Hofmann, he attended Princeton University, where he
majored in history and met
Darby Bannard and Michael Fried. Early
visits to New York art galleries fostered his artistic development,
and his work was influenced by the abstract expressionism of Jackson
Pollock and Franz Kline.  Stella moved to New York in 1958, after
his graduation. He is one of the most well-regarded postwar American
painters still working today. He is heralded for
creating abstract paintings that bear no pictorial illusions or
psychological or metaphysical references in twentieth-century
As of 2015, Stella lives in
Greenwich Village and keeps an office
there but commutes on weekdays to his studio in Rock Tavern, New
Late 1950s and early 1960s
Upon 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 1961-1969.
Around this time he said that a picture was "a flat surface with paint
on it - nothing more". This was a departure from the technique of
creating a painting by first making a sketch. Many of the works are
created by simply using the path of the brush stroke, very often using
common house paint.
This new aesthetic found expression in a series of new paintings, the
Black Paintings (59) 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 Raised Banner" 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. It has been suggested that the title has a double
meaning, referring also to Jasper Johns' paintings of flags. 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
Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College,
as well as in "Sixteen Americans" at the
Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art in New
From 1960 Stella began to produce paintings in aluminium 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
Middle East earlier in the 1960s. The Irregular Polygon
canvases and Protractor series further extended the concept of the
Late 1960s and early 1970s
Frank Stella Harran II 1967
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 used lithography, screenprinting, etching and offset
In 1967, he designed the set and costumes for Scramble, a dance piece
by Merce Cunningham. The
Museum of Modern Art
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. The shaped
canvases took on even less regular forms in the Eccentric Polygon
series, and elements of collage were introduced, pieces of canvas
being pasted onto plywood, for example. His work also became more
three-dimensional to the point where he started producing large,
free-standing metal pieces, which, although they are painted upon,
might well be considered sculpture. 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. In 1976, Stella was commissioned by
BMW to paint a
BMW 3.0 CSL for the second installment in the
BMW Art Car Project. He
has said of this project, "The starting point for the art cars was
racing livery. In the old days there used to be a tradition of
identifying a car with its country by color. Now they get a number and
they get advertising. It’s a paint job, one way or another. The idea
for mine was that it’s from a drawing on graph paper. The graph
paper is what it is, a graph, but when it’s morphed over the car’s
forms it becomes interesting, and adapting the drawing to the racing
car’s forms is interesting. Theoretically it’s like painting on a
shaped canvas."
In 1969, Stella was commissioned to create a logo for the Metropolitan
Museum of Art Centennial. Medals incorporating the design were struck
to mark the occasion.
1980s and afterward
Frank Stella La scienza della pigrizia (The Science of Laziness),
1984, oil paint, enamel paint, and alkyd paint on canvas, etched
magnesium, aluminum and fiberglass, National Gallery of Art,
Stella's Memantra, 2005, Metropolitan Museum of Art
From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, Stella created a large body of
work that responded in a general way to Herman Melville’s
Moby-Dick. During this time, the increasingly deep relief of
Stella’s paintings gave way to full three-dimensionality, with
sculptural forms derived from cones, pillars, French curves, waves,
and decorative architectural elements. To create these works, the
artist used collages or maquettes that were then enlarged and
re-created with the aids of assistants, industrial metal cutters, and
digital technologies. La scienza della pigrizia (The Science of
Laziness), from 1984, is an example of Stella's transition from
two-dimensionality to three-dimensionality. It is fabricated from oil
paint, enamel paint, and alkyd paint on canvas, etched magnesium,
aluminum and fiberglass.
In the 1990s, Stella began making free-standing sculpture for public
spaces and developing architectural projects. In 1993, for example, he
created the entire decorative scheme for Toronto’s Princess of Wales
Theatre, which includes a 10,000-square-foot mural. His 1993 proposal
Kunsthalle and garden in Dresden did not come to fruition. In
1997, he painted and oversaw the installation of the 5,000-square-foot
"Stella Project" which serves as the centerpiece of the theater and
lobby of the Moores Opera House located at the Rebecca and John J.
Moores School of Music on the campus of the University of Houston, in
Houston, TX. His aluminum bandshell, inspired by a folding hat
from Brazil, was built in downtown
Miami in 2001; a monumental Stella
sculpture was installed outside the
National Gallery of Art
National Gallery of Art in
Stella's wall-hung Scarlatti K Series was triggered by the harpsichord
Domenico Scarlatti and the writings of the U.S.
20th-century harpsichord virtuoso and musicologist Ralph Kirkpatrick,
who made the sonatas widely known. (The title's "K" refers to
Kirkpatrick's chronology numbers.) Scarlatti wrote more than 500
keyboard sonatas; Stella's series today includes about 150 works.
From 1978 to 2005, Stella owned the Van Tassell and Kearney Horse
Auction Mart building in Manhattan's East Village and used it as his
studio. His nearly 30-year stewardship of the building resulted in the
facade being cleaned and restored. After a six-year campaign by
Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, in 2012 the
historic building was designated a
New York City
New York City Landmark. After
2005, Stella split his time between his West Village apartment and his
Newburgh, New York
Newburgh, New York studio.
Stella had been an advocate of strong copyright protection for artists
such as himself. On June 6, 2008, Stella (with Artists Rights Society
president Theodore Feder; Stella is a member artist of the Artists
Rights Society) published an Op-Ed for The Art Newspaper decrying
a proposed U.S.
Orphan Works law which "remove[s] the penalty for
copyright infringement if the creator of a work, after a diligent
search, cannot be located."
In the Op-Ed, Stella wrote,
Copyright Office presumes that the infringers it would let off the
hook would be those who had made a "good faith, reasonably diligent"
search for the copyright holder. Unfortunately, it is totally up to
the infringer to decide if he has made a good faith search. Bad faith
can be shown only if a rights holder finds out about the infringement
and then goes to federal court to determine whether the infringer has
failed to conduct an adequate search. Few artists can afford the costs
of federal litigation: attorneys’ fees in our country vastly exceed
the licensing fee for a typical painting or drawing.
Copyright Office proposal would have a disproportionately
negative, even catastrophic, impact on the ability of painters and
illustrators to make a living from selling copies of their work... It
is deeply troubling that government should be considering taking away
their principal means of making ends meet—their copyrights.
Stella’s work was included in several important exhibitions that
defined 1960s art, among them the Solomon R.
Guggenheim Museum’s The Shaped
Canvas (1965) and Systemic Painting
Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art in New York presented a retrospective
of Stella’s work in 1970. His art has since been the subject of
several retrospectives in the United States, Europe, and Japan. In
2012, a retrospective of Stella's career was shown at the Kunstmuseum
Stella's work is included in major international collections,
including the Menil Collection, Houston; the Hirshhorn Museum and
Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern
Art; National Gallery of Art; the
Toledo Museum of Art and the Whitney
Museum of American Art, New York; the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; The
Hunter Museum, Chattanooga, TN. In 2014, Stella gave his sculpture
Adjoeman (2004) as a long-term loan to
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in
Among the many honors he has received was an invitation from Harvard
University to give the
Charles Eliot Norton
Charles Eliot Norton Lectures in 1984. Calling
for a rejuvenation of abstraction by achieving the depth of baroque
painting, these six talks were published by Harvard University
Press in 1986 under the title Working Space.
Frank Stella was awarded the
National Medal of Arts
National Medal of Arts by
President Barack Obama. In 2011, he received the Lifetime
Achievement Award in Contemporary
Sculpture by the International
Sculpture Center. In 1996 he received an honorary
Doctorate from the
University of Jena
University of Jena in Jena, Germany, where his large sculptures of the
"Hudson River Valley Series" are on permanent display, becoming the
second artist to receive this honorary degree after
Auguste Rodin in
Stella joined dealer Leo Castelli's roster of artists in 1959. Since
2014, he has been represented worldwide in an exclusive arrangement
Dominique Lévy Gallery and Marianne Boesky.
Çatal Hüyük (2008)
Heti, Sheila (November–December 2008). "'I'm All in Favor of the
Shifty Artist'". The Believer. 6 (9): 40–46.
De Antonio, Emile (director), Painters Painting: The New York Art
Scene: 1940-1970, 1973. Arthouse films
Julia M. Busch: A decade of sculpture: the 1960s, Associated
University Presses, Plainsboro, 1974; ISBN 0-87982-007-1
Frank Stella and Siri Engberg:
Frank Stella at Tyler Graphics, Walker
Art Center, Minneapolis, 1997; ISBN 9780935640588
Frank Stella and Franz-Joachim Verspohl: The Writings of Frank Stella.
Die Schriften Frank Stellas, Verlag der Buchhandlung König, Cologne,
2001; ISBN 3-88375-487-0, ISBN 978-3-88375-487-1 (bilingual)
Frank Stella and Franz-Joachim Verspohl: Heinrich von Kleist by Frank
Stella, Verlag der Buchhandlung König, Cologne, 2001;
ISBN 3-88375-488-9, ISBN 978-3-88375-488-8 (bilingual)
Andrianna Campbell, Kate Nesin, Lucas Blalock, Terry Richardson: Frank
Stella, Phaidon, London, 2017; ISBN 9780714874593
Frank Stella Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works". The Art Story.
^ a b Deborah Solomon (September 7, 2015), The Whitney Taps Frank
Stella for an Inaugural Retrospective at Its New Home New York Times.
Peter Schjeldahl (November 9, 2015), "Big Ideas: a Frank Stella
Retrospective", The New Yorker
^ The Art Sory, Biography
Birmingham Museum of Art
Birmingham Museum of Art (2010). Birmingham Museum of Art :
guide to the collection. [Birmingham, Ala]: Birmingham Museum of Art.
p. 236. ISBN 978-1-904832-77-5.
^ Finding aid for the George Trescher records related to The
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art Centennial, 1949, 1960-1971 (bulk
1967-1970). The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
^ a b c
Frank Stella Archived 2014-03-22 at the Wayback Machine.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
^ About the Stella Project in the Moores Opera House Archived
2009-03-01 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Home". Music.uh.edu. 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-05-25.
^ Karen Wilkin (June 23, 2011), Complementary Abstractionists Wall
^ 128 East 13th Street 
Greenwich Village Society for Historic
^ "Van Tassell & Kearney Auction Mart Designation Report" (PDF).
New York City
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 1 October
Frank Stella Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2010.
^ Artists Rights Society's List of Most Frequently Requested Artists
Archived February 6, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
^ Frank Stella, "The proposed new law is a nightmare for artists,"
Archived October 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. The Art Newspaper,
June 6, 2008.
^ Rhodes, David (November 2012). "Frank Stella: The Retrospective,
Works 1958-2012". The Brooklyn Rail.
^ Deborah Vankin (July 7, 2014), Abstract
Frank Stella sculpture
'Adjoeman' joins Cedars-Sinai artworks Los Angeles Times.
^ John Russell (March 18, 1984),
Frank Stella at Harvard - The Artist
as Lecturer New York Times.
^ Frank Stella, Working Space (Cambridge:
Harvard University Press,
1986), ISBN 0-674-95961-2. Listing at
Harvard University Press
^ White House Announces 2009
National Medal of Arts
National Medal of Arts Recipients
Archived 2010-05-05 at the Wayback Machine.
Frank Stella in Jena
^ Carol Vogel (March 20, 2014), Seasonal Changes New York Times.
^ Lévy, Dominique. "Artists".
Dominique Lévy Gallery. Retrieved 14
Frank Stella works at the National Gallery of Art
Unbounded Doctrine: Encountering the Art-Making Career of Frank Stella
ArtsEditor.com, 29 DEC 2015.
Frank Stella in the National Gallery of Australia's Kenneth Tyler
Word Symbol Space An exhibition featuring work by
Frank Stella at The
Jewish Museum, NY.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Frank Stella
Frank Stella interviewed by Robert Ayers, March 2009
Works of art, auction & sale results, exhibitions, and artist
Frank Stella on artnet
Guggenheim Museum online Biography of Frank Stella
Stella's work in the Guggenheim Collection
Stella mural installation, Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto
Frank Stella: An Illustrated Biography by Sidney Guberman
Frank Stella Papers at the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art
Frank Stella: Scarlatti and Bali
Sculpture Series / Paracelsus
Building, St. Moritz. Video at VernissageTV.
Frank Stella 1958 poet William Corbett writes about the exhibition
Frank Stella 1958 at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard
University Cambridge, Massachusetts February 4–May 7, 2006
Laying the Tracks Others Followed; Early Work at L&M Arts; New
York Times; Roberta Smith; April 26, 2012
Frank Stella in the Guggenheim collection
Works by Frank Stella
Die Fahne Hoch! (1959)
Mas O Menos (1964)
Wolfeboro I (1966)
ISNI: 0000 0001 2144 3757
BNF: cb12088913v (data)