Frank Stella: Focus on a contemporary artist of OP Art

Eliott Honti
Publié le 9 August 2022
Frank Stella: Focus on a contemporary artist of OP Art

Frank Philip Stella was born on 12 May 1936 in Malden, Massachusetts. The American painter is one of the main representatives of Op Art together with Joseph Albers. Today, Frank Stella is also considered a precursor of contemporary minimalism. Focus on Frank Stella:

His beginnings in the art world

Frank Stella began studying art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. He switched to history at Princeton University. He was greatly influenced by the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline. However, it was Barnett Newman's "flatter" painting that interested him. In 1950, he rejected the lyricism of abstract expressionism. He moved to New York and became friends with the painters Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg and the architects Richard Meier and Philip Johnson.

His work and early success

In 1959, "Black Paintings" was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of the "Sixteen Americans" exhibition. His first solo exhibition came a few years later in 1963. His work reflects the end of abstract expressionism and the beginning of object painting, which was influential in the birth of minimalism. Stella worked in large formats and in series. He invented shaped canvases, whose outline coincides with the outer limit of the image; they are black, white or multicoloured. Until 1975, Stella led the American avant-garde towards minimalism. He concentrated on the relationship between colour and form, always working in series and breaking away from the traditional form of the painting.

Changes in his work

From 1975 onwards, his work changed: the artist created baroque compositions in relief, in which he intertwined cut-out shapes and added arabesques of acid colours. Since the 1980s, Frank Stella has created monumental sculptures in polished or burnt steel. Carl Andre, a master of minimalism, described Frank Stella and his work as follows: "Art excludes the superfluous, what is not necessary. For Frank Stella, it was necessary to paint only stripes. He is not interested in expression or sensitivity. He is interested in the necessities of painting… His stripes are the paths that the brush takes on the canvas. These paths lead only to the painting.

And since the 21st century?

Frank Stella is one of the few artists to have had two retrospectives of his work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1970 and 1987). One of his monumental sculptures "The Prince of Hamburg" was installed in 2001 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington. 

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