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 Frank Stella  (1936 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/Massachusetts      Known for: geometric minimal image painting, collage

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Biography from Bernard Jacobson Gallery:
1936 May 12, Frank Philip Stella born in Malden, Massachusetts. His father is a gynecologist, his mother had attended art school.

1950-54 Attends Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, where he studied with abstract painter Patrick Morgan. At Andover met Carl Andre and Hollies Frampton 1954 Enters Princeton University. 1955 at Princeton Stella attends William Seitz' open painting studio. Begins to regularly visit art museums and galleries in New York City. 1956 Studied painting with Stephen Green, artist-in-residence at Princeton 1958 Begins the "Black Paintings"; some of their titles refer to buildings and places in New York City which have personal meanings.

Graduates from Princeton with A.B. in history. Moves to New York City, where he leases a store front on Eldridge Street. Sees Jasper Johns' "Flag and Target" paintings at Leo Castelli Gallery.

1959 Exhibits professionally for the first time in a group show at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery. At an exhibition at French & Co. sees Barnett Newman's painting for the first time. Through art historian Robert Rosenblum, Stella meets painters Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Exhibits four "Black Paintings" in "Sixteen Americans" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. The Museum purchases 'The Marriage of Reason and Squalor', first work to be included in a public collection 1960 Stella begins "Aluminum Paintings", his first shaped canvases which are shown in his first one-man exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery (September), titles refer to names of places, matadors, Arabic philosophers, and other subjects of interest to him. Begins 'Copper' series paintings.

Applies for Fulbright Grant to study in Japan 1961 Begins the 'Benjamin Moore' series (named after brand of paint employed); titles refer to Civil War battles. Travels to Florida with Sidney Guberman, where sees Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. Fulbright Grant refused. In the fall, makes his first trip to Europe. First European one-man exhibition open at the Galerie Lawrence in Paris (November). In London, marries Barbara Rose. 1962 Begins 'Concentric Squares' and 'Mitered Mazes' series. Shows 'Copper' paintings at Leo Castelli Gallery. Daughter Rachel born. 1963 First one-man show at Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles.

As artist-in-residence at Dartmouth College, teaches advanced painting students. Paints 'Dartmouth' series. In fall, after travelling to Iran, paints 'purple 'Series; titles refer to names of friends. 1964 Begins 'Moroccan series. Included in 'Post Painterly Abstraction exhibition, directed by Clement Greenberg at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Included in U.S. section of XXXII Venice Biennale, organized by Alan Solomon 1965 Included in exhibition 'Three Americans / Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Frank Stella', directed by Michael Fried at the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University (April, May) In fall, travels to Brazil. Paints series of works whose titles - 'Barn', 'Baft'- are names of Iranian cities; first use of wide bends of colour in a single painting 1966 Works on 'Irregular Polygon' series, which are included in 30th Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Son Michael born. Stella performs in Rauschenberg's Open Score, a composition consisting of a tennis game played with racquets wired to transmit sound and light; part of 9 evenings; 'Theatre and Engineering at 69th Regimental Armory', New York.

1967 Appointed artist-in-residence at the University of California at Irvine, but does not teach because of refusal to sign California's loyalty oath. Makes first lithographs at Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles (March). Designs sets and costumes for Merce Cunningham's 'Scramble" performed at the Connecticut College Dance Festival. Teaches advanced students at Emma Lake Workshop of the University of Saskatchewan (Summer).

1967 - 71 Works at 'Protractor' series; titles refer to ancient Near Eastern and Islamic cities with circular plans. 1968 Receives Annual Creative Arts Award from Brandeis University. Designs stained glass windows for projected building by Philip Johnson 1969 Begins 'new Foundland' series 1970 Retrospective exhibition 'Frank Stella' organized by S. Rubin, opens at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. From March through May 1971, the show travels to Hayward Gallery, London, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California and Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.

1971 Begins 'Polish Village' series (completed in 1973), large-scale collage relief; titles refer to names of Polish Synagogues destroyed by Nazis. During year travels to Brazil, Paris and London 1973 Begins work on Tetuan II at Gemini G.E.L, a print for a portfolio published to raise funds to endow a chair at Columbia University in honor of Meyer Shapiro. Travels to London, Geneva and Lisbon 1974 Paints 'Diderot' series, the largest of 'Concentric Square' pictures; most titles refer to works by the French critic and encyclopaedist Diderot (exceptions are executed on grisaille). Begins to work at Swan Engraving Company, Bridgeport, Connecticut, on the etching metal reliefs. In fall, begins to paint the reliefs. In June Stella receives honorary degree from Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

1975 Works at 'Brazilian' series. Daughter Laura born to Shirley De Lemos Wyse (January). Peterburgh Press installs lithography press on first floor of Stella's home. In May, travels to California where he buys an elaborate set of mechanical drawing templates which he will use to execute preparatory drawings for 'Exotic Birds' series.

1976 Begins 'Exotic Birds' series, paintings on honeycombed Aluminum reliefs; titles are names of endangered or extinct birds. Due to the complicated industrial fabrication procedures, project takes four years to finish. Creates design for BMW car, which is then painted in Munich by BMW. In June, the BMW with Stella's design driven at Le Mans 1977 In Ahmedabab, India, as guest of the Sarabhai family, executes maquettes for 'Indian Bird' series. Travels to London and to Germany, where meets racing drivers Ronnie Peterson and Peter Gregg.

1978 Begins painting enlargements of 'Indian Birds' maquettes. Marries Dr. Harriet McGurk in New York. Exhibition 'Stella since 1970', organized by Anne Live in collaboration with Philip Louder, opens at Fort Worth Art Museum. It includes work from 'Polish', 'Brazilian' and 'Exotic Birds' series. From March 1978 through 1980, the show tours Newport, Montreal, Vancouver, Washington D.C., Minneapolis, Jackson (Mississippi), Denver.

1979 Receives Claude Moore Fuss Award for 'distinguished contribution to public service' from Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. In July, father dies. Travels to Basel, London, Daytona and Germany. Creates design for BMW race car for Peter Gregg 1980 Survives auto crash with Peter Gregg on way to Le Mans racetrack. Repeatedly visits 'Pablo Picasso: a Retrospective' at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Works on 'Circuit' series (both paintings and prints).

1981 In May, receives Honorary Fellowship from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem; tours Egypt and visits Venice. Receives Medal for painting at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan 1982 Creates 'South Africans Mines', working improvisationally with metal scraps found on factory floor; titles refer to names of South African mines. Begins 'Playskool' series, named after children's toy company, which incorporates ready-made objects, such as dowels and wire mesh. Begins working on 'Illustrations after El Lissitsky's Had Gadya', a complicated series of hand painted prints that incorporate collage and shaped and lithographed papers. In February receives The Mayor of the City of New York's Award of Honor for Arts and Culture from Edward Koch. In April, son Peter is born. Creates murals for 'Stella by Starlight', a fund raising exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, first interior design commission. In September as Painting Fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, begins residency in Rome 1983 In January Stella is named Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University. Delivers series of six lectures entitled 'Working Space' from October 1983 through April 1984. Travels to Malta to research lectures. Also travels to Tulsa, Fort Worth, San Antonio, London, Paris, Brussels, Antwerp, Amsterdam, North Carolina, Vienna and Munich. In June finishes residency at American Academy in Rome.

1984 Works on 'Malta' series. Begins 'Cones and Pillars' series, painted metal reliefs which utilize elements from 'Had Gadya' prints; titles taken from Italo Calvino's Italian Folktales. Receives honorary degree from Princeton University. In November, son Patrick is born. In Edinburgh works on tapestries after 'Had Gadya' prints for Pepsico headquarters in Purchase, New York 1985 Makes series of ceramic reliefs; works with ceramist Frank Bosco; titles taken from traditional New York State folk songs. 'On Caravaggio', an article on the occasion of the exhibition 'The Age of Caravaggio' at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York, published by The New York Times Magazine (February). In September receives honorary degree from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. Receives Award of American Art from Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia (October). Travels to London and Edinburgh to continue work on tapestries 1986-94 Works on 'Wave' series of reliefs, utilizing wave motif that appeared in 'Had Gadya' prints; titles after chapters from Herman Melville's Moby Dick 1986 At Tyler Graphics begins experimenting with three-dimensional dome shapes, made of paper pulp, that will appear on later prints Designs poster for second annual Swan Laser Die / U.S. Pro Softball Squash Championship, held in New York. Receives honorary degree from Brandeis University, Massachusetts. Travels to England and Europe for auto races.

1987 Installs relief painting 'Salta nel Mio Sacco' at 599 Lexington Avenue, New York. Second retrospective exhibition organized by S. Rubin at Museum of Modern Art and then touring Amsterdam, Paris, Minneapolis and Los Angeles.

1988 Creates study for mural at Rockefeller University, New York. Creates first architectural project: a proposal for footbridge over the Seine River (in collaboration with engineer Peter Rice) 1990 At Tyler Graphics creates 'The Symphony', commissioned by the U. S. State Department's Art in Embassies Program.

1991 Creates outdoor mural 'Dusk' for Gas Company Tower, Pacific Bell Building, Los Angeles. Designs and creates model for The Leaves, the New Groninger Museum, The Netherlands (in collaboration with Peter Rice, Alexander Cott, Earl Childress and Bob Kahn). Creates study and models for Kunsthalle and Garden project, consisting of five buildings and an orangery, Dresden; commissioned by Rolf Hoffman 1992 Designs interior and exterior, decorative relief frieze, and interior dome of the Princess of Wales Theatre, Toronto; commissioned by David Mirvish. Creates outdoor sculpture 'Luneville' for the Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, Japan. Creates outdoor sculpture 'Sarrequemines' for the Hypo Bank, Luxembourg. Creates sculpture 'The Town Ho's Story' for lobby of Ralph Metcalf Building, Chicago.

1993 Creates outdoor sculpture 'Yawata Works' with Nippon Steel as part of a recycling project for the Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, Japan. Creates study for Peter Lewis Gatehouse, Cleveland, Ohio. Completes 'The Fountain', a mixed-media print, based on a collage utilizing 110 shaped plates. 1995 Designs murals for Ssangyong Building, Seoul, Korea. Creates sculpture and designs mural for Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Hotel, Pontiac Marina Project, Singapore. Stella teaches advanced studio class as Visiting Professor at Yale School of Architecture (Spring). On occasion of opening of Tyler Graphics Archive Collection in Fukushima, travels to Japan to deliver lecture 'Melrose Avenue' at Keio University (April). Creates free-standing, two-sided partition Painting. At Tyler Graphics, completes 'Imaginary Places', a series of mixed-media prints.

1998 Exhibits at Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London and from this year on is represented worldwide by the gallery. 1999 Designs Stage sets for "The Pajama Game" a 50's musical, produced by Simon Callow. Which played in Birmingham, Toronto and London. First Architectural piece commissioned for Miami FL. This is a band shell which will be opened later this year Frank Stella at 2000: Changing the Rules, Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami Florida USA, 19.12.99 - 12.3.2000

2000 Invited by the Royal Academy, London to be the Featured Artist for their Summer Exhibition Exhibition at the Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago May 2000 Exhibition at Locks Gallery, Philadelphia 2001 Heinrich von Kleist by Frank Stella, Jena, Germany then touring to Hildesheim and Stuttgart, Germany. Installation of sculpture commissioned by National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

Biography from Hollis Taggart Galleries (Artists, S-Z):
Frank Stella is one of America’s leading contemporary artists. Throughout his career he has pushed the limits of experimentation in painting, prints, and three-dimensional works, exploring, examining, and reexamining ways of seeing, interpreting, and understanding life. From the 1958 “Black Paintings,” through the shaped canvases, aluminum and copper paintings, and recent sculptural and architectural works, Stella has remained at the forefront of the contemporary art scene.

Born in Malden, Massachusetts in 1936, Stella moved to New York City in 1958 and has spent most of his life living and working in the city. The son of Italian immigrant parents, Stella attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. In the spring of his sophomore year he “discovered the art and music course,” where he first met Patrick Morgan, an abstract painter in charge of the art appreciation/studio classes. (1) In his student works from these years, Stella often imitated Morgan’s technique of laying on paint with a palette knife, scraping the pigments over boards that had been shellacked. Since materials were plentiful, as was studio space and time, Stella had the freedom to experiment endlessly. (2)

Stella entered Princeton University in 1954 and, while majoring in history, took numerous art history and studio art courses. Among his professors were noted art historian and former painter, William Seitz and painter Stephen Greene. Seitz was responsible for establishing the fledgling painting program at Princeton, which was not-for-credit at first. The program was quite small and among the other students was senior Darby Bannard (Walter Darby Bannard), who would also become a minimalist painter and from whose estate the present painting comes. Seitz also helped create the artist-in-residence program at Princeton in 1956 and brought in visiting artists such as Stephen Greene. Both Seitz and Greene were well connected with the vanguard New York art scene and during his years at Princeton, Stella accompanied them to exhibitions in Manhattan.

Under their tutelage, Stella was introduced to the inner circle of Abstract Expressionism and quickly became a convert. (3) He painted under the influence of artists such as Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, and Franz Kline while at Princeton. In January 1958, Stella saw an exhibition of Jasper Johns “target” and “flag” paintings at Leo Castelli’s Gallery New York and was powerfully impressed by them. (4) In response to them, Stella embarked upon a language of his own, making paintings with “single or multiple box forms placed in varying contexts of bands or stripes. These pictures constitute the bridge, or transition, to the Black series” a series of paintings begun in 1958 that firmly established Stella’s reputation and his individual voice as an artist. (5)

Shortly after Stella graduated from Princeton he moved to Manhattan and quickly gained recognition in the New York art world. Moving further away from the paint-laden, gestural surfaces of abstract expressionist works and towards flatter surfaces and a more minimal color palette, Stella’s paintings reflected his statement of the time that a picture was “a flat surface with paint on it—nothing more.” Stella’s “Black Paintings,” made from 1958-1960, were early manifestations of this credo, in which he made austere paintings with bands of black paint separated by regular intervals of unpainted canvas. Several of these paintings were included in two groundbreaking exhibitions: "Three Young Americans" at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College in 1959 and "Sixteen Americans" at MoMA in 1959-1960. One of these paintings, "The Marriage of Reason and Squalor," was purchased by Alfred Barr for the permanent collection of MoMA. In August of 1959, Stella became part of the stable of artists represented by the renowned gallerist Leo Castelli.

Not resting on his laurels, nor content to repeat himself, Stella soon experimented with new materials, techniques, and styles. In the 1960s, he used aluminum and copper paint and began making differently shaped canvases; not using the typical, and readily available, rectangular or square shapes. He also expanded his color palette and, in some works, arranged these colors in arcs and concentric circles. In the mid-1960s, Stella began using a new medium—prints—and worked with Kenneth Tyler at Gemini G.E.L. He designed the set and costumes for Merce Cunningham’s "Scramble" in 1967 and, in the 1970s, turned his hand to three-dimensional, collaged, relief art. Freestanding sculptures followed which developed into elaborate, multimedia creations. His prints also combined various materials and techniques. In the 1980s and 1990s, the artist took as inspiration for his work literary sources such as Herman Melville’s "Moby Dick." Since the late 1980s, Stella has been involved with several mural projects and large outdoor sculptural works. In addition, he received his first architectural commission—a band shell for the city of Miami, Florida, which opened in 2000—and has designed pavilions and museums.

Constantly evolving, changing, and responding to the world around him, Frank Stella is one of the most innovative and exciting living artists. He has won numerous awards, grants, and honors and has taught and lectured at universities and museums in America and abroad. He was given his first retrospective at MoMA in 1970, at the age of 33 and in 2007 The Metropolitan Museum of Art honored him with an exhibition.

1) Sidney Guberman, "Frank Stella: An Illustrated Biography" (NY: Rizzoli, 1995), 15.
2) William S. Rubin, "Frank Stella" (NY: MoMA, 1970), 8.
3) Guberman, 22.
4) Guberman, 27.
5) Rubin, 9.

© Copyright 2008 Hollis Taggart Galleries

Biography from Art Cellar Exchange:

Moving Beyond Minimalism
 
Frank Stella is famous for saying of his artwork: "What you see is what you get."[1]  This sentence became the mantra of minimalist artists of the 1960's and established Stella as one of the pioneers of a new art movement that stressed the reduction of the image to its most basic elements of color, shape and design.  Minimalists strove to create artwork that was devoid of symbolism, representation or opinion.  However, the complexity of Stella's work since the 1960's casts a shadow of doubt over whether he was able to confine his subjects to the ideas he propagated.  This artist's love of the art history and international culture provided too tempting for him to continue creating within a minimalist philosophy. Unlike other minimalists such as Ellsworth Kelly, Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt who acted in reaction to Expressionism, Stella's work became more painterly and demonstrative as it matured.
 
Frank Stella's career began in 1959 when paintings from his "Black Series" were purchased by Alfred Barr the Director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Paintings from this series are an example of the severely sparse style for which Stella became best known early in his career.  The entire series of Black paintings was included in the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition that same year, titled "Sixteen Americans."  Following this groundbreaking exhibition, Stella had his first solo exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in Los Angeles.  This show secured Stella reputation as one of the most successful and respected young artist's of the mid-20th century.[2]
 
Over time, Stella deviated from the minimalist designs of his "Black Series" and began to incorporate sculpture as a third dimension in his work.  These new works arising in the 1970s, called the "Exotic Birds" show evidence of expressionism and have a baroque sense of color and design. Through his tilting and intersecting planes of color and shape, Stella allowed his work to indulge in color and movement, like the wild birds of the Amazon River basin. The care that he takes in the titles alone is evidence of a man denying that his work exists only at face value.
 
Stella's continued to progress toward more complex imagery grew into the elaborate, vivid works that he created in the 1990s.  In these works Stella again paid homage to his extensive cultural and literary knowledge.  In his "Imaginary Places" series from 1995, Stella took the names of fictional cities as titled for his works.  Aiolio and Spectralia, both currently listed for sale, are names of islands in Homer's Odyssey. Nemrik, on the other hand, is an ancient Mesopotamian hunter-gather village in what is now Iraq.[3]  Another literary source that Stella frequently referenced is the work of Herman Melville, particularly Moby Dick.
 
Frank Stella has been a pioneer in the art world for four decades.  Beginning with his early fascination with Minimalism to his current love of sculptural line space and movement, he has consistently challenged our view of the world.  Stella, like Picasso, has had the creative might to recreate his style again and again and challenge our notions of his creative aesthetic.  He possesses the one quality that defines a great artist: an insatiable curiosity and fascination for the world in which he lives.
 
 Footnotes:

[1] Weinberg, Adam. http://www.whitney.org/american_voices/240/trans.html
[2] Locks Gallery, http://216.239.57.104/search?q=cache:umycS74eIXwJ:www.locksgallery.com/mlwbbiostella.html+frank+stella+black+series+sixteen+americans&hl=en&ie=UTF-8
[3] John Malcolm Russel, "Why Should We Care?" Art Journal, Winter 2003, http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0425/is_4_62/ai_111655799


Submitted by Amy Kleppinger



Biography from DB Fine Art:
Frank Stella is famous for saying of his artwork: "What you see is what you get." This sentence became the mantra of minimalist artists of the 1960's and established Stella as one of the pioneers of a new art movement that stressed the reduction of the image to its most basic elements of color, shape and design. Minimalists strove to create artwork that was devoid of symbolism, representation or opinion. However, the complexity of Stella's work since the 1960's casts a shadow of doubt over whether he was able to confine his subjects to the ideas he propagated. This artist's love of the art history and international culture provided too tempting for him to continue creating within a minimalist philosophy. Unlike other minimalists such as Ellsworth Kelly, Barnett Newman and Ad Reinhardt who acted in reaction to Expressionism, Stella's work became more painterly and demonstrative as it matured.

Frank Stella's career began in 1959 when paintings from his "Black Series" were purchased by Alfred Barr the Director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Paintings from this series are an example of the severely sparse style for which Stella became best known early in his career. The entire series of Black paintings was included in the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition that same year, titled "Sixteen Americans." Following this groundbreaking exhibition, Stella had his first solo exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery in Los Angeles. This show secured Stella reputation as one of the most successful and respected young artist's of the mid-20th century.

Over time, Stella deviated from the minimalist designs of his "Black Series" and began to incorporate sculpture as a third dimension in his work. These new works arising in the 1970s, called the "Exotic Birds" show evidence of expressionism and have a baroque sense of color and design. Through his tilting and intersecting planes of color and shape, Stella allowed his work to indulge in color and movement, like the wild birds of the Amazon River basin. The care that he takes in the titles alone is evidence of a man denying that his work exists only at face value.

Frank Stella has been a pioneer in the art world for four decades. Beginning with his early fascination with Minimalism to his current love of sculptural line space and movement, he has consistently challenged our view of the world. Stella, like Picasso, has had the creative might to recreate his style again and again and challenge our notions of his creative aesthetic. He possesses the one quality that defines a great artist: an insatiable curiosity and fascination for the world in which he lives.

Biography from RoGallery.com:
Frank Stella was born in Maiden, Massachusetts, studied at Phillips Academy, Andover, and then at Princeton University.  One year after his graduation in 1968, he was included in an exhibit, "Sixteen Americans", at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  The following year, his shaped canvases were the basis of his first one-man show at the Leo Castelli Gallery.

Stella's work is concerned with regulation of structure and color.  His first prints were often modestly scaled and monochromatic.  He followed the compositions of his paintings, but was traditional in his approach to the graphic media.  Then, in the early 1970s, he moved away from flat geometric shapes toward illusionism, with liberal uses of color. Later, he experimented with combinations of shapes, colors, and techniques in print series, which are an incredible number of variations on a theme.

Today, his prints no longer follow his paintings-they are uniquely inventive and visually exciting in themselves.  Stella is one of the most important contemporary printmakers.  Highly acclaimed, both critically and popularly, his work has been exhibited in the most prominent American and British galleries and is included in prestigious public collections thoughout the world.

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