A RETROSPECTIVE ODE TO FEARLESSNESS
The current retrospective of prints by Frank Stella at the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy is stunning, spectacularly revealing the evolution of the artist’s printmaking over three decades, from the minimalistic geometric “Black Series 1” (1967) to the visually cacophonous “Near East Monoprints” (1999-2001). Organized to celebrate the publication of the revised and updated catalogue raisonné of Stella’s prints, the exhibit is a testament to the artist’s inexhaustible curiosity, technical daring and creative exploration.
Richard H. Axsom, senior curator at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Wisconsin, is both the author of the catalogue, “Frank Stella Prints: A Catalogue Raisonné,” and the curator of the retrospective. The 100 editioned prints on display are generously on loan from the collections of both Jordan D. Schnitzer and his family foundation in Portland, Oregon.
Frank Stella, an alumnus of Phillips Academy (class of 1954), is regarded in the United States and internationally as one of the most prominent American abstract artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. In 2015, the Whitney Museum of American Art acknowledged Stella’s distinguished place in contemporary art with a comprehensive retrospective in their new location; it was one of the museum’s major inaugural exhibitions. Storied New York art dealers Leo Castelli and Larry Gagosian have represented his work.
In his early 20s, influenced by the art of Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, Stella had already gained national recognition for the minimalist purity of his geometric “Black Paintings.” Although an overview of the artist’s work shows that his prints have followed the progression of his paintings, reliefs and sculpture — especially his predilection for seriality — Frank Stella’s attempts at printmaking began in the late 1960s.