Renowned Painter, Sculptor Frank Stella Is Dead

He blurred the lines between the two forms
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 5, 2024 5:31 AM CDT
Renowned Painter, Sculptor Frank Stella Is Dead
A visitor looks at works by artist Frank Stella at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Tehran, Iran, in 2022.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

Frank Stella, a painter, sculptor, and printmaker whose constantly evolving works are hailed as landmarks of the minimalist and post-painterly abstraction art movements, died Saturday at his home in Manhattan at age 87. Gallery owner Jeffrey Deitch confirmed his death to the AP. Stella's wife, Harriet McGurk, told the New York Times that he died of lymphoma.

  • The start: Born May 12, 1936, in Malden, Massachusetts, Stella studied at Princeton University before moving to New York City in the late 1950s. At that time, many prominent American artists had embraced abstract expressionism, but Stella began exploring minimalism. By age 23 he had created a series of flat, black paintings with gridlike bands and stripes using house paint and exposed canvas that drew widespread critical acclaim.

  • Signature style: Over the next decade, Stella's works retained his rigorous structure but began incorporating curved lines and bright colors, such as in his influential Protractor series, named after the geometry tool he used to create the curved shapes of the large-scale paintings. In the late 1970s, Stella began adding three-dimensionality to his visual art, using metals and other mixed media to blur the boundary between painting and sculpture.
  • Long career: Stella continued to be productive well into his 80s, and his new work is currently on display at the Jeffrey Deitch Gallery in New York City. The colorful sculptures are massive and yet almost seem to float, made up of shining polychromatic bands that twist and coil through space. "The current work is astonishing," Deitch told the AP. "He felt that the work that he showed was the culmination of a decades-long effort to create a new pictorial space and to fuse painting and sculpture."
(More obituary stories.)

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