PAE: $8,000,000-$12,000,000
Frank Stella, Delaware Crossing
Frank Stella, Delaware Crossing, Alkyd on canvas, 77 by 77 in. 195.6 by 195.6 cm, Painted in 1961. © Images are copyright of their respective owners, assignees or others.

Frank Stella (b. 1937) is an American painter, considered a pioneer in the minimalist art movement of the 1960s, along with Kenneth Noland, Ellsworth Kelly and Robert Ryman. Minimalism was a reaction against the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940s and 1950s and its expressive use of paint. Stella’s early work focused on the flatness of paint and the objectivity of the picture as a whole, the picture-as-object. He has remarked that a picture is “a flat surface with paint on it – nothing more”. “Die Fahne Hoch!”, 1959, translated to “Flags on High!”, of his “Black Paintings” series removes the normal figure-ground relationship found in Abstract Expressionist works. Stella uses black enamel paint to mark the canvas with broad strokes of similar thickness to the depth of the three-inch stretcher bars over which the canvas is fastened. The rules set forth by the depth of the stretcher bars are repeated in the bands of black paint, moving inward, finally depicting a cruciform structure, which alludes to a crossbar support under the canvas. Observing this work one is inclined to conclude that the white lines that separate the black bars are painted on top, when in fact they are the unpainted canvas underneath, further undermining any residue of figure-ground relations. In the 1960s, beginning with paintings that utilized aluminum and copper house paint, (highlighting the reflective qualities of paint that “would be fairly repellant” and “hard to penetrate” from the standpoint of the viewer) Stella experimented with various support forms that were not exclusively rectangular or square. His stretcher defined structures included notches, and works of V, L, N, U and T-shapes, along with diagonal jogs of sorts. His “Irregular Polygon” series from 1966-7 marks a noticeable shift from the strict definition of stretcher-based paint widths that launched his career. With his “Protractor Series” from the late 60s and early 70s, Stella expanded his forms to curved supports, mimicking in structure and depiction the measuring instrument from their title. Increasingly throughout the 70s, Stella’s work became not necessarily painting or sculpture. His works of three-dimensional quality, supported by the gallery wall, were termed “maximalist”. These works of high relief, such as Polish Village series, developed into his first collage like constructions of interlocking planes. He These works leap off the wall and mark the beginning of a trajectory that Stella has followed from the 1980s onward. See “Scarlatti Kirkpatrick” series. Frank Stella lives and works in New York and is represented by Dominique Levy Gallery and Marianne Boesky Gallery.

Video: Frank Stella - From "Painters Painting".

Video: Masters Series: An Evening with Frank Stella. From Toledo Museum of Art