Malden, Mass. 1936 - lives in New York
Frank Stella's works have a special position in American art and show a kinship with Minimal Art as well as Abstract Expressionism. "What you see is what you see". This statement by the artist sums up the essential philosophy of his work: The viewer should be able to grasp and experience the work without any prior knowledge. His minimalist 'Black Paintings', first exhibited in 1959, are completely without motif and colour and put the emphasis on the surface. They show simple black stripes, arranged in a symmetric pattern, with thin stripes of the light canvas visible between them. Experimenting with symmetric patterns became a distinguishing mark of Stella's art. He had broken with Abstract Expressionism and opened up a new path to abstraction. The first works with colour show geometric figures, which emphasize the spatial dimension. In these works, the severity of construction was abandoned in favour of dynamic elements. A major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Hayward Gallery in London and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam presented his work as early as 1970, when the artist was only 34 years old. In 1987 the second retrospective was shown at the MoMA, an honour that few living artists receive at all, let alone twice.