Artist
Frank Stella
American artist

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Frank Stella
American artist
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Birth Date

1936

ajardini's picture

Sr. Editor

Frank Stella is guilty of a terrible crime.

At Sartle, we hate nothing more than when someone goes to a museum, sees some modern art and says obnoxiously, “Pffff! I could do that.” Well, the point of the matter, Sir, is that you didn’t do that, did you? So get this: Frank Stella saw a Vogue magazine where the models were standing in front of a Franz Kline painting and said, “I saw that and thought ‘I could do that.’” J’accuse Mr. Stella! J’accuse!

But unlike most annoying naysayers, Stella actually did do that. Taking his cues from the Abstract Expressionists, especially Jasper Johns, Stella developed a style that was less representational than even Johns’ flag paintings, and pioneered minimalism on the canvas. Basically his motto was, “Watcha see is watcha get.” He didn’t think pictures should be anything more than flat paint on a surface. And while his colorful shapes and straight lines are beautiful, they definitely aren’t trying to look like, say, a vase of sunflowers or a naked lady. 

Stella had some artistic confidence built-in as his mother was a painter. (His father was a gynecologist, but I don’t know exactly what kind of confidence one gains from that.) And he hit it big before he was even 25. While we were all trying to figure out how to pay taxes, he was showing at the MOMA. 

Not content to be pigeon-holed by his success, Stella has evolved greatly during his, ahem, fifty year career. He’s done black, he’s done color, all sorts of differently shaped canvases and even a body of sculptural work based on the novel Moby Dick. However, the world hasn’t always been too kind to his experiments. According to Travel & Leisure magazine, a work by Stella in Seoul, South Korea, has the dubious honor of being one of the "world’s ugliest public sculptures." And this is a world that houses the ‘Buttplug Gnome.’ Stella’s sculpture is ugly, though. The company even planted trees around it to try to protect poor pedestrians’ eyes.

Even though art critics think Stella’s new work is heinous, and due to physical reasons (he’s almost 80!) he has to digitally render artworks and have them fabricated, he hasn’t given up. I hate to say it...but Frank Stella was completely right when he said “I could do that.”

 

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Frank Stella

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.

Biography

Frank Stella was born in Malden, Massachusetts, to parents of Italian descent. His father was a gynecologist, and his mother was an artistically inclined housewife who attended a fashion school and later took up landscape painting.

After attending high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, where he learned about abstract modernists Josef Albers and Hans Hofmann, he attended Princeton University, where he majored in history and met Darby Bannard and Michael Fried. Early visits to New York art galleries fostered his artistic development, and his work was influenced by the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline. Stella moved to New York in 1958, after his graduation. He is heralded for creating abstract paintings that bear no pictorial illusions or psychological or metaphysical references in twentieth-century painting.

As of 2015, Stella lives in Greenwich Village and keeps an office there but commutes on weekdays to his studio in Rock Tavern, New York.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Frank Stella.