Spanning more than sixty years, Frank Stella’s studio practice has pushed abstraction to the limits, investigating every category from painting and printmaking to sculpture and public art. Among the myriad of forms found in Stella’s work, one element continuously reappears, a motif that is simultaneously abstract and figurative: the star. Immediately identifiable, the star stands out amidst the tangle of invented abstractions the artist has explored over his long career. Under the spotlight for the first time, this exhibition surveys Stella’s use of the star through twenty-five works that orbit the Museum, ranging from two-dimensional works of the 1960s to its most recent incarnation in sculptures, wall reliefs, and painted objects from the 2010s.
Stella’s use of the star form emerged during his first decade in New York as he was exhibiting his groundbreaking striped and shaped paintings. It then vanished and resurfaced many decades later at a moment when he committed himself to three-dimensional abstraction. Today, the star is the lead in scores of works from small objects to towering sculptures, each parading a material resourcefulness that collapses analogue and twenty-first century fabrication techniques: RPT plastics, teak, aluminum, stainless steel, birch plywood, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and more.
The Museum’s founder Larry Aldrich showed an early interest in Stella’s work, exhibiting Tetuan (1963) one year after he founded The Aldrich in 1964. Since then, Stella’s work has been exhibited in fourteen more group exhibitions, including shows such as Cool Art (1967), The Minimal Tradition (1979), and Intermedia: Between Painting and Sculpture (1984). The present survey, however, marks the first time that The Aldrich has devoted an entire exhibition to the artist’s work.
The exhibition spans the Leir Gallery, Screening Room, Project Space, Sculpture Garden and Museum’s grounds.
Frank Stella was born in 1936 in Malden, Massachusetts, and lives and works in New York City.
Frank Stella’s Stars, A Survey is organized by Richard Klein, Exhibitions Director, and Amy Smith-Stewart, Senior Curator, with the help of Caitlin Monachino, Curatorial Assistant and Publications Manager.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color 150-page hardbound book, featuring essays by the exhibition’s curators.
Generous support for Frank Stella's Stars, A Survey is provided by the Anne S. Richardson Fund, Speyer Family Foundation, Martin Margulies, Diana Bowes and James Torrey, Linda and Michael Dugan, and Patricia and Lawrence Kemp.
Top image: Frank Stella’s Stars, A Survey, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, September 21, 2020 to May 9, 2021, left to right: Fat 12 Point Carbon Fiber Star, 2016; Flat Pack Star, 2016 (installation view), Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Aspen © 2020 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo: Jason Mandella