We want to tribute the incredible artist Frank Stella, who passed away recently, by sharing 5 things you didn’t know about Frank Stella. 

1. The power behind the titles

Stella’s artworks are visually arresting and laden with profound symbolism in their titles, like in his Black Paintings series.

In Die Fahne Hoch! (which translates to “Hoist the Flag”) is the opening line to Horst Wessel Lied, the Nazi party anthem. The painting also alludes to Jasper John’s work, Flag, which seeks to overturn bourgeois sensibilities and answer society’s more complex questions about humanity. The artist described his paintings as “dark, very dark”; therefore, “some needed dark titles.”

Frank Stella

Die Fahne Hoch!, Black Serie I, 1959

Enamel on canvas

121.4 x 72.9 in

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, NY, US

2. Canvas revolutionized

Driven by a relentless pursuit of artistic harmony, Stella reshaped the canvas itself in the 1960s, defying convention and ushering in a new era of expression. Over the next decade, the artist introduced relief into his art, describing his approach as a ‘maximalist’ painting because of its sculptural qualities.

Frank Stella

Shoubeegi, 1978

Enamel, metal, glitter

95 3/4 × 130 in

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco, CA, US

3. Precision in Imperfection

Given the seemingly precise geometric proportions of her unique “stripe paintings,” Stella does not measure these lines but draws them freehand. Over the years, many critics have assumed that Stella used masking tape to create his signature look, but in reality, it is the subtle imperfections that bring his works to life. 

Frank Stella

Tahkt-I-Sulayman Variation II, 1969

Acrylic on canvas

120 x 240 in

Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN, US

4. Master of Printmaking

Stella didn’t stop at revolutionizing canvas art; he also mastered printmaking. Teaming up with master printmaker Kenneth Tyler, Stella unleashed his creativity through prints, employing techniques like screenprinting, etching, and lithography. His prints stand as a testament to his inventive spirit and artistic versatility.

Frank Stella

Storil Five II, 1981

Four color etching, relief print on dyed multicolor paper

66 x 51⅜ x 2 in

5. The Stellar Star

In Frank Stella’s works, one motif continuously makes an appearance: the star. Interestingly, his last name means star in Italian, adding a layer of intrigue to his art. While he initially shied away from star-shaped artworks, fearing they’d overshadow his diverse talent, he eventually embraced this motif, allowing it to become a significant thread in his artistic narrative. From two-dimensional minimal works to cutting-edge 3-D sculptures, his star-shaped creations continue to captivate, showcasing the breadth of his extraordinary career.

Frank Stella

Black Star, 2014

Carbon fiber

224 3/8 x 224 3/8 x 224 3/8 in

Frank Stella: A Retrospective, Whitney Museum of American Art.

Photo Credit: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/arts/design/tracking-frank-stellas-restless-migrations-from-painting-and-beyond.html