Frank Philip Stella
May 12, 1936
Malden, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Movement||Modernism, minimal art, abstract expressionism, geometric abstraction, abstract illusionism, lyrical abstraction, hard-edge painting, shaped canvas painting, color field painting|
|Awards||1984 Harvard University Charles Eliot Norton lectures|
National Medal of Arts
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 City.
Frank Stella was born in Malden, Massachusetts. His father was a gynecologist, and his mother was a housewife and artist who attended fashion school and later took up landscape painting.
After attending high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, he attended Princeton University. His work was influenced by the abstract expressionism. He is heralded for creating abstract paintings that bear no pictorial illusions or psychological or metaphysical references in twentieth-century painting.
In the 1970s he moved into NoHo in Manhattan in New York City. As of 2015, Stella lived in Greenwich Village and kept an office there but commuted on weekdays to his studio in Rock Tavern, New York.
Upon moving to New York City, he began to produce works which emphasized the picture-as-object.
Stella married Barbara Rose, later a well-known art critic, in 1961. Around this time he said that a picture was "a flat surface with paint on it – nothing more". 
Die Fahne Hoch! (1959) 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. 
In 1959, several of his paintings were included in "Three Young Americans" at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, as well as in "Sixteen Americans" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1960). 
From 1960 his works used shaped canvases later developing into more elaborate designs, in the Irregular Polygon series (67), for example. 
Later he began his Protractor Series (71) of paintings, in which arcs, sometimes overlapping, within square borders named after circular cities he had visited while in the Middle East earlier in the 1960s. 
In 1967, Stella designed the set and costumes for Scramble, a dance piece by Merce Cunningham. 
The 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, which he came to call "maximalist" painting for its sculptural qualities.  After introducing wood and other materials in the Polish Village series (1973), his Minimalism became baroque. 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 said of this project, "The starting point for the art cars was racing livery. The graph paper is what it is, a graph, but when it's morphed over the car's forms it becomes 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.
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. To create these works, the artist used collages or maquettes that were then enlarged and re-created by assistants (eg. La scienza della pigrizia (The Science of Laziness), from 1984). 
In 1993, he created the entire decorative scheme for Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre, which includes a 10,000-square-foot mural.  In 1997, he oversaw the installation of the 5,000-square-foot "Stella Project" at the Moores Opera House at the Rebecca and John J. Moores School of Music at 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 in Washington, D.C. 
Stella's Scarlatti K Series was triggered by the harpsichord sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti.
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 which resulted in the facade being restored. After a six-year campaign by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, in 2012 the historic building was designated a New York City Landmark. After 2005, Stella split his time between his West Village apartment and his Newburgh, New York studio.
By the turn of the 2010s, Stella started using the computer as a painterly tool to produce stand-alone star-shaped sculptures. The resulting stars are often monochrome, black or beige or naturally metallic, and their points can take the form of solid planes, spindly lines or wire-mesh circuits. His Jasper’s Split Star (2017), a sculpture constructed out of six small geometric grids that rest on an aluminum base, was installed at 7 World Trade Center in 2021.
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,
The 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. The 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...
Stella's work was included in several exhibitions in the 1960s, among them the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s The Shaped Canvas (1965) and Systemic Painting (1966). The Museum of Modern Art in New York presented a retrospective of Stella's work in 1970. In 2012, a retrospective of Stella's career was shown at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg.
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In 2014, Stella gave his sculpture Adjoeman (2004) as a long-term loan to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The Menil Collection, Houston; the Museum of Fine Arts, 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; and many others.
Stella gave the 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.
In 2009, Frank Stella was awarded the 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 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 1906.
Since 2014, Stella has been represented worldwide in an exclusive arrangement shared by Dominique Lévy and Marianne Boesky. In May 2019, Christie's set an auction record for Stella's Point of Pines, which sold for $28 million.
In April 2021, his Scramble: Ascending Spectrum/ascending Green Values (1977) was sold for £2.4 million ($3.2 million with premium) in London. The painting was bought for $1.9 million in 2006 from the collection of Belgian art patrons Roger and Josette Vanthournout at Sotheby’s.
From 1961-1969 Stella was married to art historian Barbara Rose; they had two children, Rachel and Michael. In 1978 he married pediatrician Harriet McGurk.
In late 2022, Stella launched an NFT (non-fungible token) that includes the right to the CAD files to 3D print the art works in the NFTs.
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