Valencian Institute for Modern Art opens Frank Stella exhibition

Valencian Institute for Modern Art presents Frank Stella. From strictness to baroque an exhibition on view Jul 24 – Oct 14, 2012.

Frank Stella (Malden, Massachusetts, 1936) is one of the twentieth-century’s great masters of abstract art who is still active. Rewarded by the IVAM with the Premio Internacional Julio González, Frank Stella is considered the precursor of Minimalism. His work from the 1950s meant a radical rupture with the plastic precepts that had defined American Abstract Expressionist painting. His precise geometrical lines and plain coloured painting transformed not only the rectangular format of traditional canvas, but also the conceptual and vital precepts of the pictorial creation itself.

Frank Stella Baft 1965

Frank Stella, who first studied at the Philips Academy in Andover from 1950 until 1954, and later, in Princeton, until 1958, was heavily influenced by the impact made on American students by the creators of the Bauhaus exiled due to the menace of Nazism. Stella belongs to a generation of artists entirely formed theoretically as well as plastically in abstraction, option which he completely defends and acclaims: “I feel that abstraction became superior to representationalism as a mode of painting after 1945.” And he adds “Abstraction has the best chance of any pictorial attitude to be inclusive about the expanding sum of our culture’s knowledge. It is flexible and expansive.”

At the end of the 1950s, and influenced by proposals from Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, Stella emphasised primary form structures and colour in his paintings. He worked with a great simplicity of plastic elements and with great economy of means over big black, white or multicolour format paintings carried out with great meticulousness with outlines that coincide with the exterior limits of the image. “His stripes are the paths of brush on canvas. These paths lead only into painting,” said Carl Andre in this respect.

Soon after, Frank Stella started the construction of his Shaped-canvas, paintings of singular and original forms that challenged traditional canons. The use of coloured stripes guides the rhythm of the space on the support giving the work the status of the object whose function is to revalue its surroundings.

After having been one of the most important representatives of Minimal Art, in 1974 Frank Stella turned to multiple and trimmed forms, confectioned with very diverse materials and using a wide range of fluorescent, metallic and acid colours. It’s a work that gradually became three-dimensional and its free forms led it towards sculpture. Cardboard cuttings, cloths, bronze, or wire mesh fragments he joined to pieces of aluminium fixed to metal structures.

This metamorphosis done from series that overlapped in time, with contributions from Kitsch, from graffiti, with evocations from Pop and employing popular culture colours, led him to some sort of baroque from which he later escaped when he worked on monumental scale works, to which polished, rusted or burnt steel gave a much more austere aspect. –

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