Frank Stella

“My painting is based on the fact that only what can be seen there is there. It really is an object. Any painting is an object and anyone who gets involved enough in this finally has to face up to the objectness of whatever it is that he's doing. All I want anyone to get out of my paintings, and all I ever get out of them, is the fact that you can see the whole idea without any confusion... What you see is what you see.”

 

—Frank Stella

Frank Stella (Malden, Massachusetts, b. 1936) is a painter, sculptor and printmaker known for his irregular shaped canvases, large-scale reliefs and maximalist sculptures. Stella studied painting at the Phillips Academy in Andover, MA, and went on to study history at Princeton University. He moved to New York after his graduation in 1958 and started working on a series of innovative paintings that led to his so-called Black Paintings (1958-1959), Aluminum Paintings (1960), and Copper Paintings (1960–61). These series established his reputation as a pioneer of Minimalism. In the mid 1960s, Stella expanded his ideas of the shaped canvas with the Irregular Polygons (1965–67) and Protractor series (1967–71). In the 1970s, the bold geometry of the Polish Village works (1970–73) eventually evolved into baroque elaborations of the space in the 1980s and 1990s, producing a body of work that indirectly responded to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Stella’s early statement of “What you see is what you see” was once considered as the unofficial credo of Minimalism practices.