adjoeman, 2004. Stainless steel and carbon fiber, 214 x 206 x 164 in. View of work installed on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s roof garden.

The Age of Abstraction: A Conversation with Frank Stella

Frank Stella has championed abstraction for about 50 years. From his two solo exhibitions at MoMA early in his career, in 1970 and 1987, through his recent solo shows—two at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at the Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York City, Galerie Ficher Rohr in Basel, Galerie Haas & Fuchs in Berlin, and Galerie Terminus in Munich—his artistic fluency has been seemingly boundless. Stella’s career took off at the end of the ’60s with his black series: “What you see is what you see” was his black period motto. People gasped as he appeared to turn his back on Abstract Expressionism. Then, instead of capitalizing on the rising value of this work, Stella moved on, turning to color and to shaped canvases, a real innovation at the time, then moving to relief, collage, and mixed-media work, and eventually coming full circle to create three-dimensional work. While the newest works are multi-dimensional, Stella calls them “paintings”; other works, he terms “architecture.” All of them are about pure perception and may be considered “sculpture.”