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Frank Stella (b.1936)

Frank Stella.jpg

Los Alamitos, from Race Track Series, 1972; Screenprint on Gemini Rag Board; Numbered 12/75, signed Frank Stella and dated 72 in pencil lower right; Published by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, with their blindstamp and inkstamp verso; Catalog Raisonne: Axsom 74, Gemini 378; Size - Image 15 x 75 1/4", Sheet 20 1/4 x 80", Frame 20 1/2 x 80 1/2"; Framed floated with a silver metal exterior frame and plexiglass.

"I always get into arguments with people who want to retain the old values in painting - the humanistic values that they... find on the canvas. If you pin them down, they always end up asserting that there is something there besides the paint on the canvas. My painting is based on the fact that only what can be seen there is there... What you see is what you get." - Frank Stella

Frank Stella (b. 1936) is an American painter, sculptor, and printmaker, most known for his work in the areas of minimalism and post-painterly abstraction. In the late 1950's and 1960's he began to produce works which emphasized the picture-as-object, rather than the picture as a representation of the physical or emotional. The year 1959 saw the creation of the Black Paintings, a group of paintings composed of bands of black paint separated by very thin pinstripes of unpainted canvas. In 1961 he married Barbara Rose, who later be recognized as one of the most well known and respected art critics and who undoubtedly had a major influence on the artist. It was during this time that Stella continued to work within the idea that a picture was "a flat surface with paint on it, nothing more." 

Stella generally works in series, in that the emerging works have a common theme, composition, and according to him; have the features of "line, plane, volume, and point within space." His famous quote regarding his work is, "what you see is what you see." Stella currently lives and works in New York City.

Frank Stella's race track series from 1972 consists of three horizontal prints, each named after a horse racing track in California or Mexico. Comparing horse racing to the art world he says, "Racing is so much nicer than the art world, where everything is driven by opinion. At the racetrack, it doesn't matter what people think. At the end of the race, one horse crosses the finish line first, and that horse is the best horse. It's a lot simpler." 

The concentric ellipse shaped color forms of the race track series resemble an simplified aerial view of race tracks. The first print in the series is "Del Mar," named after the racetrack in San Diego, CA. The light color values and hues are reminiscent of the the arid environment and coastal beach climate of the classic southern California way of life. "Los Alamitos," named after the racetrack in Orange County is a picture composed of shifts in color and light values. The oblong ellipses generate a pleasant and calming composition. The pale violet is surrounded by light values of blue and green and the black middle ellipse allows for the colors to pulse in a calming resonating vibrancy. The last in the series is "Agua Caliente," named for the dog racing track in Agua Caliente Casino and Resort in Mexico. The work is composed of only three ellipses and is the most bold of the grouping. An optical effect is created with a shade of green in the center surrounded by complimentary red color values. All three prints are large in size, being eighty inches long. It is this large format that allows for the works to be read as both important and to have their immediate presence further enhanced. 

"I feel that what keeps the push-pull from defeating the picture, what I think keeps it on the surface, is the feeling that the colors move, they follow the bands, they have a sense of direction. It's the directional sense of color, I think that holds the surface of the painting, I wanted something that was direct - right to your eye... something you didn't have to look around - you got the whole thing right away." - Frank Stella

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