American painter and sculptor Frank Stella started his artistic career in New York city in the 50s and 60s during the dominant Zeitgeist of Abstract Expressionism and rebelled against its passionate brushstrokes and highly psychologized aesthetic in the favour of a unique Minimalist style with simple compositions of exuberant color and precise geometry that he has since made his trademark. “What you see is what you see.” Frank Stella’s simple words capture his philosophy and make him one of the most heralded artists in history.

Born in 1936 in Malden, Massachusetts he received a privileged education at the Phillips Academy, where he first encountered the abstract oeuvres of Josef Albers and Hans Hoffman that served as his primary creative inspirations. Following his graduation from Princeton University, Stella settled in New York City in 1958 without a specific plan in mind, in his words: “I wasn’t thinking of becoming an artist. I just wanted to make things and paint for a while.”

Even at such an early stage of his career, he decidedly rejected the then dominant Abstract Expressionist movement, but instead paid attention to painters Barnett Newman and Jaspers Johns, who were primarily interested in colour. Stella saw the purpose of a painting in being an object, “a flat surface with paint on it, nothing more”, instead of something representative carrying a higher meaning. This also meant a diversion from common painting techniques of first creating sketch – Stella painted completely freehand and often used mere house paint.

Frank Stella
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