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November 2016

Frank Stella: A Retrospective

I had the pleasure of attending the press preview for Frank Stella: A Retrospective that is on display at the De Young museum in San Francisco this fall.

The preview began with a short press conference given by museum director, Max Hollein, and curator of American Art, Timothy Anglin Burgard. As far as the numbers are concerned, the exhibition spans six decades and features fifty pieces of art. Due to the sheer size, complexity, and dimensionality of many of the works, the exhibition is incredibly ambitious; coordination and shipping alone made the traveling exhibition a logistical challenge.

I am generally familiar with Stella’s work from my contemporary art classes in college, but between the press conference and the tour, both given by Burgard, I walked away inspired, excited, and with a huge appreciation for the artist’s work. Perhaps most enlightening is the fact that Stella has spent his entire career pursuing the many nuances of abstraction. Unlike Picasso, Pollock, and other contemporary artists whose careers were rooted in representational painting and later morphed into abstraction, as a young artist in the 1950’s, Stella was taught by the founders, so to speak, of the Abstract Expressionist movement, which was the cutting edge of the American avant grade. Burgard asserted that by working in complete abstraction, Stella really took on the burden of defending, promoting, and propagating abstraction as something incredibly worthwhile.

Overall, the Frank Stella retrospective is absolutely worth visiting. The work is compelling, awe-inspiring, and is a visual treat that any art lover would enjoy.

 

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Frank Stella, Harran II, 1967. Polymer and fluorescent polymer paint on canvas, 120 x 240 in (308.4 x 609.6 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Gift, Mr. Irving Blum, 1982. © 2016 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Frank Stella, Jasper’s Dilemma, 1962. Alkyd on canvas, 77 x 154 in (195.6 x 391.2 cm). Collection of Irma and Norman Braman. © 2016 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Frank Stella, Gran Cairo, 1962. Alkyd on canvas, 85 5/8 × 85 5/8 in (217.5 × 217.5 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Purchase, with funds from the Friends of the Whitney Museum of American Art, 63.34. © 2016 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Frank Stella, Gobba, zoppa e collotorto, 1985. Oil, urethane enamel, fluorescent alkyd, acrylic, and printing ink on etched magnesium and aluminum, 137 x 120 1/8 in (348 x 305.1 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Frank G. Logan Purchase Prize Fund; Ada Turnbull Hertle Endowment, 1986.93. © 2016 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Frank Stella, Jasper’s Dilemma, 1962. Alkyd on canvas, 77 x 154 in (195.6 x 391.2 cm). Collection of Irma and Norman Braman. © 2016 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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