Further to my base article series on the 50 years of art by abstract painter and sculpture Frank Stella, this video article offers an extensive visual illustration of various stages of Stella’s work. It displays the Metropolitan Museum’s double exhibition: ‘Frank Stella; On the Roof’ & ‘Frank Stella: Painting into Architecture’. As well, this video also offers an interview with abstract artist Frank Stella himself.
The ‘Frank Stella’ Exhibitions at the MET
To honor Frank Stella’s 50 years as an artist in the New York art scene, the Metropolitan Museum (MET) in New York City created a double show of recent and historic examples of his art, in mid-to-end 2007.
The first exhibition, ‘Frank Stella: Painting into Architecture’ explored Stella’s interest in architecture over recent decades. With works that ranged from small models to an enormous full-scale mock-up, the exhibition demonstrated how Stella’s formal concerns literally moved from painting to wall-reliefs, to free-standing sculpture that became architecture.
The second exhibition, ‘Frank Stella on the Roof’ consisted of recent monumental works in stainless steel and carbon fiber by the artist. They were displayed on the Cantor Roof Garden.
“Since his first showings in New York in the 1950s, Frank Stella has occupied an important place among New York artists and has continued to expand the boundaries of what abstract painting and sculpture can be,” commented Gary Tinterow, Engelhard Curator in Charge of the Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art.
“In these two exhibitions, we see Stella’s 50-year gestation of ideas melding painting, sculpture, and architecture. Unique among the painters of his generation, he looks back to Malevich’s reductive notions of Suprematism and, at the same time, looks forward to extravagant forms that have recently been popularized by architects such as Frank Gehry.”
Frank Stella: Painting into Architecture
Highlights of the exhibition include Sunapee II (1966), an oil painting with – like many of Stella’s other works – a shaped canvas emphasizing its object-like nature; important models such as First Model Kunsthalle Dresden (1991), which is a rendering of one building for an as-yet unrealized cultural park in Dresden, Germany; three models for Chinese Pavilion, including one in bronze from 1993, one in brass from 2005, and a 2007 (in progress) carbon epoxy composite that is displayed on the Roof Garden due to its enormous size; and a large fiberglass-and-carbon-fiber section of a building-in-progress called The Ship (20 x 26 x 30 feet).
MoMA ‘Frank Stella: Painting into Architecture’ Exhibition Books
Recent Works in Second Exhibition, “Frank Stella: on the Roof’
In the spectacular 10,000-square-foot outdoor space the large-scale sculpture exhibitions, ‘Frank Stella on the Roof’ explored his recent sculptural and architectural works in stainless steel and carbon fiber.
“Two of the sculptures on view, each more than 14 feet high – adjoeman (2004) and memantra (2005) – are from Stella’s Bamboo series (2002-2007). Both titles can be found in the glossary of Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead’s 1942 Balinese Character: A Photographic Analysis in Balinese, adjoeman means “showing off, decorative,” while memantra is a “verbal form from mantra, a prayer or incantation.” MET explained.
While the black of the carbon fiber harks back to the artist’s early Black paintings, the steel tubing has been incorporated into his more recent relief and sculptural work. The structure of adjoeman is suggestive of a sailing craft, with its base and its mastlike, boomlike features, as well as its sail-like component. Memantra is more exuberant and improvisational, with spiraling, swooping, curving steel conduits that cradle a central molded-carbon-fiber slab, suggesting sculptural calligraphy.
Also on the Roof Garden was Frank Stella’s first exhibition of ‘Chinese Pavilion’ (2007). The structure of the piece explores the sort of leaf formation that has been one of the artist’s chief architectural themes. Fabricated for the Museum’s rooftop setting, this pavilion-like work-in-progress is officially part of the concurrent exhibition ‘Frank Stella: Painting into Architecture’ at the Metropolitan, and serves to unite the two exhibitions.”
Abstract Artist Frank Stella & his Work on Video
Click either the image, or this link here to see the useful, albeit amateur, video by James Kalm:
(Note: The filming-method of this video gives an extra dimension to the experience of seeing Stella’s work and meeting Stella himself. We are made to feel as if we are really ‘there’, hiding in the hoody of the camera-man.)
More Articles on Frank Stella
I particularly want to highlight that these exhibitions were accompanied by a 40-page, illustrated publication ‘Frank Stella’ with an essay by Paul Goldberger. In addition, I recommend the 2008 critical survey of abstract painter & sculpture Frank Stella, covering 128 pages, by James Pearson. The details of these resources are below. Recommended.