mercoledì 17 ottobre 2012

"What you see is what you see." The world of Frank Stella




Frank Stella (1936) is one of the greatest living artists whose impact is felt in the work of many contemporary American artists and styles.  He is an Italian American painter and printmaker. In his career he was an innovator  and he often confounded his peers. He suggested that his painting was significantly shaped by the fact that he was among the first generation of artists for whom the rightful existence of abstraction was assumed, and he steadfastly maintained that it was the only post-war idiom capable of sustaining the highest ambitions for painting.
In 1959, Frank Stella gained early, immediate recognition with his series of coolly impersonal black striped paintings that turned the gestural brushwork and existential angst of Abstract Expressionism on its head. Focusing on the formal elements of art-making, Stella went on to create increasingly complicated work that seemed to follow a natural progression of dynamism, tactility, and scale: first, by expanding his initial monochrome palette to bright colors, and, later, moving painting into the third dimension through the incorporation of other, non-painterly elements onto the canvas. He ultimately went on to create large-scale freestanding sculptures, architectural structures, and the most complex work ever realized in the medium of printmaking. Stella's virtually relentless experimentation has made him a key figure in American modernism, helping give rise to such developments as Minimalism, Post-Painterly Abstraction, and Color Field painting.
In late 1950s and early 1960s he began to produce works which emphasized the picture-as-object, rather than the picture as a representation of something, be it something in the physical world, or something in the artist's emotional world. Around this time he said that a picture was "a flat surface with paint on it - nothing more".  In the 1960s, Stella began to use a wider range of colors, typically arranged in straight or curved lines. Later he began his Protractor Series (71) of paintings, in which arcs, sometimes overlapping, within square borders are arranged side-by-side to produce full and half circles painted in rings of concentric color.
In late 1960s and early 1970s: During the following decade, Stella introduced relief into his art, which he came to call “maximalist” painting for its sculptural qualities. The shaped canvases took on even less regular forms in the Eccentric Polygon series, and elements of collage were introduced, pieces of canvas being pasted onto plywood, for example. His work also became more three-dimensional to the point where he started producing large, free-standing metal pieces, which, although they are painted upon, might well be considered sculpture. As the 1970s and 1980s progressed, these became more elaborate and exuberant. Indeed, his earlier Minimalism became baroque, marked by curving forms, Day-Glo colors, and scrawled brushstrokes. Similarly, his prints of these decades combined various printmaking and drawing techniques.


1980s and afterward: During this time, the increasingly deep relief of Stella’s paintings gave way to full three-dimensionality, with sculptural forms derived from cones, pillars, French curves, waves, and decorative architectural elements.
In the 1990s, Stella began making free-standing sculpture for public spaces and developing architectural projects.  Stella continues to live and work in New York. He also remains active in protecting the rights for his fellow artists.

(Sources: moma.org; theartstory.org)

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