Frank Stella (b. 1936 Malden, MA) is an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker celebrated for geometric patterns and minimalist abstractions.
Stella was born in Malden, Massachusetts and attended high school at Phillips Academy located in Andover. He continued his studies at Princeton University, where he studied history and painting. After he graduated, Stella moved to New York in 1958, where he encountered abstract expressionism, but felt more drawn to the flatter, geometric works of Barnett Newman and Jasper Johns.
In his earlier series such as, Black Paintings, Aluminum Paintings, and Copper Paintings, Stella worked with shaped canvases and emphasized the flatness of the surface, avoiding the traditional rectangular canvas filled with illusionistic space. He worked with black paint interrupted by thin stripes of unpainted canvas before expanding to a wider range of color. In the mid-1960s, Stella began producing prints when he worked with printer Kenneth Tyler. During the 1970s and 80s, he combined printmaking and drawing techniques, and by 1973 he was working out of his own print studio in his New York house in 1973.
In his later works, from the 1980s, Stella’s minimalism transitioned into maximalist. His increasing interest in deep relief lead the artist to experiment with sculptures formed by cones, pillars, curves, and architectural elements such as pillars, often beginning with collages and maquettes that he would translate to large-scale sculptures. Stella also began making sculptures for public spaces, and in 2001, his sculpture was displayed outside of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York presented the first retrospective of Stella’s work, when he was in his 30s. Since then he has received the First Prize at the International Biennial Exhibition of Paintings in Tokyo, Japan; Ordre des Arts et des lettres from the French Government; and the Gold Medal for the Graphic Art Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York.
In 2015, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and Whitney Museum of American Art co-organized the most comprehensive retrospective of Stella’s work to date. His work has been the subject of other major exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Haunch of Venison, London, England; and The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. His work is included in major public collections, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland; Art Institute of Chicago; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; and Tate Gallery, London.