Discussing the work of abstract artist Frank Stella.
In 1959, Stella gained early, immediate recognition with his series of coolly impersonal black striped paintings that turned the gestural brushwork and existential angst of Abstract Expressionism on its head.
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Focusing on the formal elements of art-making, Stella went on to create increasingly complicated work that seemed to follow a natural progression of dynamism, tactility, and scale: first, by expanding his initial monochrome palette to bright colors, and, later, moving painting into the third dimension through the incorporation of other, non-painterly elements onto the canvas.
THE BLACK SERIES
By exploring the relationship between the flat plane of a canvas and the basics elements of artwork and sculpture – color, shape and composition – Frank Stella created his Black Paintings. The paints were done on large canvasses, using house paint and a large brush. Stella painted black stripes in various configurations, separated by thin lines, on unpainted canvas. Stella’s artwork took a natural progression from flat canvas, to shaped canvas, to textural print and then to sculpture.
One of the most influential artists from the 1960s, Stella burst onto the New York art scene in the late 1950s with his Black Paintings, which shook the art world. His stripes of house paint were cold and emotionless, a stark contrast to the dramatic world of the abstract expressionists. “What you see is what you see,” was Stella’s simple slogan. His work influenced the boys club of minimalist and color field artists like Dan Flavin, Sol LeWitt and Carl Andre. World-class architects like Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind followed, counting Stella as an inspiration.
“What you see is what you see,” Sunday’s with Frank Stella
Chocorua 1, 1965-1966, Acrylic on paper.
The exhibition considered Stella’s long-standing interest in the picture plane, presenting early paintings that reference the spaces where he lived and worked; his groundbreaking use of color, shape, and volume to map new possibilities for abstraction; and finally his use of advanced technology to evoke new conceptions of space.