Frank Stella - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Tuesday, May 14, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    M. Knoedler & Co. Inc., New York
    Private Collection, Connecticut (acquired from the above in 1981)
    Sotheby's, New York, May 2, 1989, lot 46
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Frank Stella daringly flouts the conventions of the traditional frame with the bold and monumental Misano, executed in 1981. Among the most significant works in Stella’s renowned Circuit series, Misano juxtaposes marigold yellow with deep magenta, emerald green and burnt umber in a seemingly disorderly mass of bright, twisting curves. Produced in an extraordinarily productive period in the early 1980s, during which all of Stella’s attentions were focused on the Circuit series, his largest group of works to date that included 68 aluminum maquettes. In producing the Circuit series, Stella custom-ordered large aluminum reliefs from a factory, then etched and painted criss-crossing parallel lines across the individual metal contours. With these metal forms, Stella experimented with bringing the surface out of the pictorial frame, and his works from the series steadily became more three-dimensional. Misano represents a breakthrough within the Circuits, as the interplay between the painted metal forms of the relief and the negative spaces revealing the wall behind it have completely replaced the conventional, rectangular pictorial window that characterizes the previous models.

    Named after the Misano World Circuit race track in Misano Adriatico, Italy, the present work is dominated by a snake-like arabesque curve, which Stella created using a Flexicurve draftsman’s tool. These curves are ubiquitous in the Circuits series, yet in Misano the curvilinear forms have evolved out of the rectangular, canvas-like outline seen in early Circuit works. As William Rubin observed of its sister work from 1982 “In its exquisite equilibrium of solid and void, its play of open and closed, Misano is one of the most classically ordered of Stella’s metal reliefs… In Misano, the parallels to Pollock are not just a matter of the classical ‘breathing’ in the openings and closings of the configurational pattern, or the way the disposition of the composition implies its pictorial rectangle, but also of Stella’s ability to handle a multilayered configuration of highly variegated components without slipping into visual congestion” (William Rubin, Frank Stella: 1970-1987, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, pp. 103-104).

  • Artist Biography

    Frank Stella

    American • 1936 - N/A

    Recognized as one of the most important postwar American artists, Frank Stella pioneered Minimalism with his monochrome “Black Paintings” of the late 1950s that marked a decisive departure from Abstract Expressionism. Concerned with the formal over representative elements of painting, Stella has developed a rich oeuvre reflecting his explorations on painting as an object through his investigations on color, shape, and composition. By the 1960s, Stella turned to bright colors and worked with shaped canvases that radically deemed form itself as content. After briefly experimenting with relief and collage, he ultimately turned to freestanding large-scale sculptures and architectural projects. Still working today in New York City, Stella remains the youngest artist to have had a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970 and the first living artist to have had another the following decade in 1987.

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Property from the Miles and Shirley Fiterman Collection



acrylic on wood, metal and Tycore
64 1/2 x 82 x 10 1/2 in. (163.8 x 208.3 x 26.7 cm.)
Executed in 1981.

$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $475,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 15 May | On View at 432 and 450 Park Avenue