Currently the Whitney Museum of American Art is hosting a retrospective of Frank Stella, who is hands down one of the most important living American artists. The exhibition tracks the New York artist’s fifty-seven-year career. In 1959 Stella gained early recognition with his series of impersonal black striped paintings that were prominently displayed in 1959 at the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition, “Sixteen Americans.” It was a fresh introduction to minimalism and a farewell to Abstract Expressionism. His Black Paintings, is composed of black inverted parallel U-shapes containing striped separated by thin lines of unpainted canvas. It’s flat 2D geometric pattern reiterates the minimalist’s practice of simplicity and stark impersonal themes.
The retrospective mostly runs chronologically, with a few newer paintings placed next to his earlier work for comparison. Some of his most famous work was done during his Protractor series, which contrasts his Black Paintings series and depicts bright vivid colors and curvy shapes. His piece Harran II also uses a 2D geometric pattern that reminds the viewer that it is just paint on a canvas. The work is architectural and its shape was based on the protractor drafting tool. This piece itself is massive and makes quite an impression in person.
Stella contined to use the shaped canvas technique that incorporates geometric forms and color variation through the 1970’s. From flat painted canvases, Stella moved to painted aluminum reliefs, and then onto sculpture. The exhibition gradually shows this change and concludes with a few sculptures on the outside balcony.
Frank Stella, 79, divides his time between his townhouse in Greenwich Village and his studio in the Hudson Valley. The exhibition is closing February 7, 2016 and is so far the largest exhibition for the Museum’s new space in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
FRANK STELLA: A RETROSPECTIVE
OCT 30, 2015 – FEB 7, 2016
IN THE NEWS “Frank Stella is back. His grand, high-spirited, slightly overstuffed retrospective has taken over the fifth and largest exhibition floor of the new Whitney Museum of American Art, where it looks great.” – The New York Times