Frank Stella Retrospective: Catch What You Didn't See On Instagram Right Here
If you are on Instagram and you like art, you have surely seen picture after picture of artist Frank Stella's fabulous stripe paintings, most taken at the Whitney Museum's blockbuster Frank Stella Retrospective. The paintings are undeniably fantastic. The Whitney exhibition closes this Sunday, February 7, and if you can go, you should.
My guess is you won't be able to make it, so I am going to show you what didn't get nearly as much play on social media as Stella's stripe paintings, but should have.
I am talking about his monumental three dimensional "paintings" which some categorize as sculpture.
If his earlier work was described as 'minimal', these pieces are decidedly baroque. They have large curved elements and, often, day-glo colors. Stella uses cones, pillars, French curves and decorative architectural elements.
To create these pieces, Stella started with collages and small models known as maquettes. The finished works were enlarged and re-created with the aid of assistants, industrial metal cutters and digital technology.
One series of these works was inspired by a visit to the Coney Island Aquarium, where Stella encountered a large tank of beluga white whales near the entrance. He was moved by their movement and force. This trip led Stella to re-read the novel Moby Dick and to ultimately create a 3-D painting for each of it's 135 chapters, such as this one, "The Whiteness of the Whale."
Sometimes, Stella repeated forms from earlier works when he created these huge pieces, like he did in "Loomings" created in 1987. In "Loomings", he used the form of a French curve (a drafting tool) seen in the lower right, a shape first seen in his work in the 1970s.
Have a look at more of Stella's 3-D works at the exhibition.
I got lost in the details of "At Sainte Luce!’ [Hoango] [Q#1]” (1998), by Stella. So many different colors, shapes and painting techniques. I think it might have been my favorite piece at the exhibition.
What do you think of these pieces?
All photos by Lynn Byrne.