This six print series by Frank Stella is based off of the configurations of the metal-relief paintings. In all six of these prints, you can the graph paper in the background is visible.
Each print’s name corresponds to the names of endangered and extinct birds such as: Puerto Rican Blue Pigeon and the Okinawa Woodpecker. Due to the subdued colors and graph patterns, the prints have an active working quality to them. Made concurrently along with the metal relief paintings, these have diverse alterations in color and finish.
Compared to the Eskimo Curfew, 1977 in the print series, his metal relief painting is much more three dimensional. Not only are the colors different in scheme and tone, but the impression of the art itself is much more tactile. Interesting enough, the prints did not serve as preparatory sketches. Stella’s Exotic Bird Series alternated between prints and paintings around the same time where one can see the similarities and differences reflect each other.
Furthermore, Stella incorporates motifs such as: French curves, ship curves, and straightedges, all of which are draftman’s tools. Although his paintings contain brighter and more saturated colors, this series was one of the first to incorporate the merging of lithography and screenprinting.
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From minimalism to maximalism, Frank Stella's prints and sculptures never fail to engage the viewer no matter how complex or simple they may seem. A master of composition, his graphic manipulations of geometry and his formal survey of abstraction make Frank Stella one of the foremost American artists of his lifetime.
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The series, dedicated to Stella's late friend and racecar driver, Ronnie Peterson uses a quatrefoil shape, variously dissected and reversed, to create beautifully cohesive compositions.
The large colorful works combine into a strong visual narrative inspired by the artist El Lissitzky’s illustrations of the Jewish Passover song Had Gadya.
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Based on the metal-relief paintings of the Circuit Series (1980-1984), Frank Stella created a Circuits print series inspired by race tracks he had visited in different parts of the world.
A series of five lithographs that masterfully reuse the leftover elements of Stella’s previous series to create complex and beautifully colorful worlds of curves, nets, and gradients.
The works from this series, Imaginary Places 1994-1999, depict fictional locations taken from the book The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi.
The series of 25 prints was created by collaging scraps of discarded templates from Swan Engraving Company on a board and printing the inked surface. Because the collaged composition was uneven, when printed the paper gained a beautiful reliefed surface
The series contains eight total prints which take their bases from Stella's Cones and Pillars relief paintings. The names of the pieces are derived from the titles of short stories based on Italian Folktales. Stella employs aquatint printing for the first time to imitate the effect of oil paint brush strokes
The six-piece series showcases the beautiful lines of the french curve one of Stella's favorite artmaking tools. Each print’s name corresponds to the names of endangered and extinct birds such as: Puerto Rican Blue Pigeon and the Okinawa Woodpecker.
Named after 3 race tracks in California and Mexico, the series consists of oblong, harmonically-colored prints resembling a birds-eye view of racetracks, which Stella had a lively personal interest in.
Frank Stella (American, born 1936)
An American painter and printmaker, Frank Stella was an innovator. Born in 1936 in Malden, Massachusetts Frank Stella attended Princeton University, where he majored in history. It was during this time that he painted loose, gestural abstractions in the tradition of the New York School, but did not seriously entertain the idea of a career in the arts. With constant visits to New York however, a Jasper John’s exhibition changed his mind as he was impressed by the factuality of the work and the geometric patterns of the rings and stripes that formed the images. After graduating, Stella moved to New York where he took up painting seriously and it was after two accidental paintings that he found his success. Known as The Black Paintings they were penciled lines drawn on raw canvases where the open spaces were partially filled with black house-paint. It was from that time on that Stella consistently developed his increasingly complex variations on selected themes in a highly organized, cyclical manner that for many years allowed little room for spontaneity; one such famous example being Newstead Abbey (1960). Stella constantly challenged himself and his first radical shift came in 1966, with the Irregular Polygon series in which he employed interlocking geometric shapes that were bordered by the familiar bands. It was around this time as well that he created his first abstract prints in lithography, screenprinting, etching and offset lithography which had a strong impact upon printmaking as an art and is a medium of which he became an acknowledged master. During the following decade, Stella introduced relief into his art, which he came to call “maximalist” painting for its sculptural qualities. From the mid-1980’s to the mid-1990’s, Stella created a large body of work that responded in a general way to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. During this time, the increasingly deep relief of Stella’s paintings gave way to full three-dimensionality, with sculptural forms derived from cones, pillars, French curves, waves, and decorative architectural elements. To create these works, the artist used collages or maquettes that were then enlarged and re-created with the aid of assistants, industrial metal cutters, and digital technologies.
In the 1990’s, Stella began making freestanding sculptures for public spaces and developing architectural projects. Still residing in New York today with his many accolades, Frank Stella prints and paintings are most famous for his work in the areas of minimalism and post-painterly abstraction.
FRANK STELLA PAINTINGS
Frank Stella’s artistic range is incredible, spanning from the monochromatic Black Paintings to multi-colored mixed media works. Between 1958 and 1965, Stella experimented mainly with abstract painting. One example are the Black Paintings which he created in the late 1950s. Black Paintings consisted of bands of black paint being carefully separated by thin, white lines. In every way, these paintings are a rebellion against the expressive colors popularized by abstract expressionism. In the year following the Black Paintings, Stella decided to produce paintings with aluminium as his base material. The Aluminum Paintings retain the thin stripes of their counterparts, yet appear more fragile due to the material. The result is a geometric illusion in which lines and planes seem to unfold infinitely on the aluminum canvas. The painting blurs the line between art object and an industrial metal.
In the mid-1960s, Stella departed from his stark, minimalist works to create the Irregular Polygon paintings. Stella’s Irregular Polygons are large, asymmetrical canvases composed of bold lines and colorful geometric forms. Their visual impact is dramatic yet minimal, foreshadowing Stella’s eventual fascination with geometry, colorful abstraction and the shaped canvas. In 2015, Stella’s painting Delware Crossing, 1961 fetched $13.7 million at Sotheby’s, setting an auction record for Stella.
FRANK STELLA PRINTS
After establishing himself as a painter, Frank Stella began making prints in 1967. Stella initially worked mainly with lithography, though screen prints and intaglio prints have also shaped his artistic development. His prints are a continuation of the aesthetic he brought to his paintings. Like his paintings, Stella’s prints were also created in series. As such, the prints also corresponded to the imagery found in his paintings.
This connection between the two mediums is intentional. Stella explains “ What I like in the paintings I try to get in the prints. And then, what I like in the prints I try to get in the paintings. It works both ways.” A comprehensive survey of Stella’s prints can be found in the catalogue raisonne The Prints of Frank Stella: A Catalogue Raisonné 1967-1982 by Richard H. Axsom.
FRANK STELLA LITHOGRAPHS
In 1967, Frank Stella partnered with Kenneth Tyler, the owner of Gemini G.E.L. to work on his first lithographs, Star of Persia I and Star of Persia II. During this time, Stella also made a series of lithographic drawings which reexamined his Black Paintings.
Stella assembled these lithographic drawings into an album to create an intimate look at his earlier work. This album project encompassed 9 lithographic series (63 prints) and the lithographs are remarkable for their hand-drawn geometric symmetry and commitment to pure form. He is also credited with inventing offset lithography. Stella’s immediate success in printmaking was honored in 1970 with his first print retrospective Frank Stella: Prinzip Seriell, Grafik 1967-1970 at the Kunstmuseum in Dusseldorf, Germany.
FRANK STELLA COLLAGES
Frank Stella began began executing collage works in 1970, the same year in which the Museum of Modern Art in New York gave him a solo retrospective. The first series in collage was Stella’s Polish Village Series (1970-73) which was made with Stella’s desire to bring three-dimensionality and form-building to his works. These 130 large-scale constructions feature angles and lines which intersect and weave into one another.The collage was made of paper and felt pasted onto the canvas, seamlessly turning into a low-relief sculpture.
Stella continued to expand with the Exotic Bird collage sculptures from the late 1970s which layered aluminum shapes that were also smeared with color. In 1984, Stella created the Illustrations after El Lissitzky’s ‘Had Gadya’ series, a blend of hand colouring collaged with lithographic, linoleum block and silkscreen prints. Many of these collage works were recently featured in Frank Stella:A Retrospective at the Whitney Museum. This marks Stella as the first artist to exhibit in the museum’s new building.
FRANK STELLA SCREENPRINTS
The flat, opaque coloring from screenprinting proves to be a perfect medium for Stella’s geometric style. Almost all of his screenprints were created in the early 1970s with the collaboration of the Gemini G.E.L. studio. A smaller body of work than the lithographs, Stella’s screenprints are easily recognized for their sumptuous colors and luxuriant texture.
The artist was fascinated with screen printing for several reasons. For one, screenprinting allowed him to add varied color resolution to his images. Additionally, through this medium he was able to explore the decorative possibilities of unrestrained color. It is during this time he coined the term “maximialist”painting to describe his style. An important work from this medium is the Race Track Series, 1972. Currently, many of his screenprints are held within the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
FRANK STELLA MIXED MEDIA
From the late 1970s to early 1980s Stella dedicated his attention to mixed media works at a grand scale. In every way, this period of his career represents Stella’s full plunge into three-dimensional works. To create these works, the artist used collages that were enlarged with the help of assistants and industrial metal cutters. Made with enamel paint, etched magnesium, aluminum and fiberglass, La scienza della pigrizia (The Science of Laziness), 1984 epitomizes works from this period. Stella’s mixed-media works were immediately well-received.
In 1981, a Christie’s auction sold Stella’s Laysan Millerbird, 1977, a wall relief of oil, sand and oil sticks on metal, to a private collector for $180,000. It was a groundbreaking sale considering the work had been completed only 4 years prior.