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Frank Stella
The Musket

1990

$775,000

About

A sculpture by Frank Stella. "The Musket" is an abstract wall sculpture, mixed media on aluminum in a wide array of colors and patterns by American Post-War artist Frank Stella. There is no visible signature. Frank Stella (b. 1936) is an American painter and printmaker, noted for his work in the areas of minimalism and post-painterly abstraction. Stella’s work was included in several important exhibitions that defined 1960s art, among them the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s "The Shaped Canvas" (1965) and "Systemic Painting" (1966). The Museum of Modern Art in New York presented a retrospective of Stella’s work in 1970. His art has since been the subject of several retrospectives in the United States, Europe, and Japan. In 2012, a retrospective of Stella's career was shown at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. In 2015, The Whitney Museum of American Art is presenting a retrospective of Stella’s career to date. The show will feature approximately one hundred twenty works, including paintings, reliefs, maquettes, sculptures, and drawings. Stella's work is included in major international collections, including the Menil Collection, Houston; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; National Gallery of Art; the Toledo Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. In 2014, Stella gave his sculpture "Adjoeman" (2004) as a long-term loan to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Among the many honors he has received was an invitation from Harvard University to give the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures in 1984. Calling for a rejuvenation of abstraction by achieving the depth of baroque painting, these six talks were published by Harvard University Press in 1986 under the title "Working Space". In 2009, Frank Stella was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama. In 2011, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture by the International Sculpture Center. Provenance: Knoedler & Company, New York Private Collection Armand Bartos Fine Art, New York Private Collection, United States Literature: R. Wallace, "Frank Stella's Moby Dick" University of Michigan Press, 1994, page 277, plate 158 (illustrated in color)

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About the Artist

Frank Stella

Frank Stella is one of the central figures in postwar American art. A proponent of minimalism and non-representational abstraction, Stella is a painter, printmaker and sculptor. A native of Massachusetts, he attended Phillips Academy in Andover and earned a BA from Princeton, where he studied art and color theory with Josef Albers and Hans Hofmann. Stella frequented New York galleries as a student and was intrigued by the work of Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, both of whom were at the height of their creative powers in the late 1950s. After moving to New York in 1958, he gravitated toward the geometric abstraction and restrained painting style of Barnett Newman and Jasper Johns. Johns’s flat, graphic images of common objects such as targets and flags prompt viewers to question the essential nature of representation and whether these pictures are really paintings or simply new iterations of the items themselves. Stella pushed Johns’s reasoning further, considering paintings on canvas as objects in their own right, like sculptures, rather than representations. This led him to reject certain formal conventions, eschewing sketches and often using nontraditional materials, like house paint.In 1959, Stella created his “Black Paintings,” series, in which bands of black paint are separated by thin, precise stripes of bare canvas. At a time when contemporary painting was all about wild gestures, thick paint and formal abandon, these pieces created a sensation. That same year, Stella's work was included in the exhibition "Sixteen Americans" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and he joined the roster of artists represented by Leo Castelli Gallery. In 1960, he began introducing color into his work and using unconventionally shaped canvases to complement his compositions. In his “Eccentric Polygon” series, from 1965 and ‘66, Stella embraces asymmetry and bold color, creating forms delineated by painted fields and by the edges of the canvas. This series was followed by the 1967–70 “Protractor” series, characterized by colorful circles and arcs. Named after the ancient cities whose circular plans Stella had noticed while traveling in the Middle East during the 1960s, these works usually comprised several canvases set flush against one another so that the geometric figures in each section came together in a larger, more complex whole. Also in the mid-1960s, Stella started exploring printmaking, initially working with Kenneth Tyler, of Gemini G.E.L., and later installing printing equipment in his own studio. In 1968, he created the “V” series of lithographs,which included the print Quathlamba I. Following a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970, Stella began working in three dimensions, adding relief elements to paintings, which could almost be considered wall-mounted sculptures. Stella’s 1970–73 “Polish Village” series was inspired by a documentary photos and architectural drawings of Polish synagogues that had been destroyed by Nazis during World War II. The resulting works — composed primarily of paint and cloth on plywood — are more rugged and less polished than his previous series. Herman Melville's Moby Dick was his muse for a series of three- dimensional works he created in the 1980s in which waveforms, architectural elements and Platonic solids play a prominent role. During this period, Stella embraced a new, exuberant style that is exemplified in "La Scienza della Fiacca." In 1997, he oversaw the creation of the Stella Project, a 5,000-square-foot work inside the Moores Opera House at the University of Houston. A large free-standing sculpture by Stella stands outside the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.Stella’s work is in the collections of numerous important museum collections around the world, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Menil Collection, in Houston; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, in Washington, D.C.; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama in 2009, and was given the Lifetime Achievement Award in Contemporary Sculpture by the International Sculpture Center in 2011.Find a collection of Frank Stella's art on 1stDibs.
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