Frank Stella


Frank Stella Biography

B. 1936 -


Frank Philip Stella is an American painter and printmaker. He is a significant figure in minimalism, post-painterly abstraction and offset lithography.

He was born in Malden, Massachusetts. He studied painting at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and later studied history at Princeton University.

He became influenced by the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline. However, upon moving to New York City around the late 1950s, he reacted against the expressive use of paint by most painters of that movement, instead finding himself drawn towards the "flatter" surfaces of Barnett Newman's work and the "target" paintings of Jasper Johns.

He began to produce works which emphasized the picture-as-object, rather than the picture as a representation of something, be it something in the physical world, or something in the artist's emotional world.

From 1960, he began to produce paintings in aluminum and copper paint which, in their presentation of regular lines of color separated by pinstripes, are similar to his black paintings. However, they used a wider range of colors, and are his first works using shaped canvases.

Also in the 1960s, Stella produced a series of prints. Stella's abstract prints in lithography, screenprinting, etching and offset lithography (a technique he introduced) had a strong impact upon printmaking as an art.

In the 1970s, Stella's style underwent a dramatic change. The carefully constructed geometric designs executed in flat planes of color were replaced by a "looser" style sometimes reminiscent of graffiti. His work also became more three-dimensional to the point where he started producing large, free-standing metal pieces, which, although they are painted upon, might well be considered sculpture. 

In 1993, Stella was commissioned to produce 10,000 sq. feet of murals to decorate the interior lobbies, the ceiling dome, the sounding board and the exterior of the fly tower of Toronto, Canada's new Princess of Wales Theatre. Following this project, he opened a studio in Toronto for the purpose of building more such large-scale projects. He has gone on to produce a number of large works for public spaces, and the three-dimensionality of his work has led to him being commissioned to produce architecture, including a bandshell for the city of Miami, Florida.

Stella continues to produce works in this style and lives in New York City.