Frank Stella

Stella, Frank, 1936–, American artist, b. Malden, Mass. In his early "black paintings" Stella exhibits the precision and rationality that characterized minimalism, employing parallel angular stripes to emphasize the rectangular shape of his large canvases. His innovative and influential use of irregularly shaped canvases first appeared in his metallic series in 1960. Later examples of his work stress color in decorative curved motifs. In the 1970s and 80s, Stella abandoned the studied, minimalist aesthetic in favor of a more improvised, dynamic, and dramatic idiom in mixed-media. During that time he abandoned flat paintings and instead created large, jutting, multipart, three-dimensional painting-constructions that often incorporate bright colors, enlarged versions of French curves, and lively brushstroke patterns.

Stella's work became fully three-dimensional in the early 1990s in a series of dense abstract sculptures composed of found and cast elements in stainless steel and bronze. These unpainted and often large-scale metal wall constructions, with their tangled, layered, and looping shapes, project an air of vibrant spontaneity. One of his most important and monumental sculptures is Prince of Homburg (1995–2001), installed outside the National Gallery of Art's East Building, Washington, D.C. Throughout his career, Stella also has been a prolific printmaker. The Whitney Museum, New York City, has several of his paintings, and his works are included in numerous museum and corporate collections worldwide.

See Frank Stella: An Illustrated Biography (1996) by S. Guberman; studies by W. Rubin (1980), L. Rubin, ed. (1986), and A. Pacquement (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

More on Frank Stella from Fact Monster:

See more Encyclopedia articles on: American and Canadian Art: Biographies