b. 1936 Malden, Massachusetts, USA
1958 BA in History, Princeton University
Lives and works in New York
At the age of 23, Stella had been already recognized for his unconventional work called Black Paintings (1958-60), a series of black-stripe paintings with symmetrical patterns of stripes. He painted the stripes with a house-painter's brush and left the space blank in between stripes, revealing the unprimed canvas. Black Paintings series was also shown at the Sixteen Americans exhibition, the Museum of Modern Art, NY (1959-60).
Stella executed a series of Aluminum Paintings (1960) and showed at the artist's first solo show at the Leo Castelli Gallery, NY in 1960. Together with Black Paintings series, these series of shaped canvases with metallic aluminum paint with stripe patterns heralded the advent of Minimalism. In 1966, the artist showed the Systemic Painting at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY. Systemic Painting is the painting that is designed, not composed so that the artist would simply follow the 'system' until the painting is finished; the painting was literally determined by the shape of the outside edge of the canvas. Throughout the 1960s, Stella emphasized this 'objecthood' of painting by exploring various canvases in such shapes as L, U, triangle, trapezoid and pentagon.
In 1970, the Museum of Modern Art, NY presented a retrospective of then 35-year-old artist (Stella is the only living painter to be honored with two retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art). During the 1970s, the artist moved from the minimalist style and executed works with exuberant colours and forms, incorporating sculptural elements with painting as seen in Polish Village series (1970-1974) and Exotic Bird series (1976-1980).
The 1980s witnessed the beginning of the strong Baroque influence on the artist's work. Stella began to create a new type of space using the sculptural forms, which in many aspects foresaw his sculpture for public space and architectural projects in the 1990s. Throughout the 1990s, the artist experimented various materials, producing sculptures using stainless steel, brass, Styrofoam, and fiberglass etc. Since the mid 1990s to date, Stella has continued to execute massive metal pieces for public places all over the world including Prince Frederick of Homburg (2001), a gigantic outdoor sculpture, commissioned by the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
During the early 2000s, Stella has produced large-scale wall-mounted sculptures, made of twisted tubing supported by stainless steel trusses such as Pendanda (2003). Most recently, the artist exhibited the huge stainless steel installation pieces such as Chinese Pavilion (2007) at Frank Stella on the Roof, a special exhibition in tandem with his solo show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY (1 May - 29 July 2007).
In 2009, Frank Stella was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama.