Frank Stella

The National Medal of Arts is
the highest award given to
artists and arts patrons by the
United States government. The
National Medal of Arts is
awarded by the President of the
United States to individuals or
groups who "...are deserving of
special recognition by reason of
their outstanding contributions
to the excellence, growth,
support and availability of the
arts in the United States."
Receiving the National Medal
of Arts in 2009.
Born in Massachusetts in 1936, the first of three children to first
generation Italian-American parents.
He began learning to paint his sophomore year of high school.
Majored in history at Princeton University, where he also continued
taking art courses. His professors there introduced him to the New
York art world by bringing him to exhibitions in the city.
He moved to New York after graduating in 1958.
Early on he chose to emphasize the flatness of the painting surface,
overturning the notion of paintings as an illusion of 3-dimensional
“Grey Scrambled Double Square” (1964)
synthetic polymer on canvas
"Making art is complicated because the categories are
always changing. You just have to make your own art,
and whatever categories it falls into will come later."
“Untitled” (1966)
acrylic and fluorescent alkyd on canvas
“Harran II” (1967), 10’ x 20’
polymer and fluorescent polymer paint on canvas
Stella practices nonrepresentational painting, meaning that it does not allude to
underlying meanings, emotions, or stories. He chooses to explore "line, plane, volume,
and point, within space,” and focuses on the basic elements of an artwork - color, shape,
and composition.
“Eskimo Curlew” (1976)
Stella began literally
extending painting
into the third
dimension, entering
the viewer's space
with the
incorporation of
“Shoubeegi” (Indian Birds) (1978)
7’x10” by 10’ by 2’x8 ½”
“La Scienza Della Pigrizia”(The Science of
Laziness) (1984)
oil, enamel paint, etched magnesium, aluminum,
“The Musket” (1990)
assemblage and mixed media
“Maxon’s Island” (1995)
Mixed Media
“Severinda” (1995)
mixed media on fiberglass
“Architecture can't fully represent the chaos and turmoil
that are part of the human personality, but you need to
put some of that turmoil into the architecture, or it isn't
Prinz Friedrich von Homburg, Ein Schauspiel, 3X
steel, aluminum, fiberglass
“A sculpture is just a
painting cut out and
stood up somewhere.”
The Phillips
Collection in
DC, 2008
“I don't like to say I have
given my life to art. I prefer to
say art has given me my life.”