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  • Provenance

    M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York; Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    Born May 12, 1936, in Malden, Massachusetts, Frank Stella completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Princeton University in 1958. Since Princeton did not at the time offer a degree in studio art, Stella’s artistic development was due mainly to self-teaching. Stella’s first group exhibition of significance opened at the Museum of Modern Art in 1959. Due to immense notoriety for his Black Paintings, Frank Stella was henceforth established as one of the most radical young artists working in the United States. One year later, the artist opened his first one man show in New York City.
    Stella’s series of Brazilian Pictures, begun in 1975, marked deviation from the tightness of his early work. A freer, more painterly approach to drawing initialized his Exotic Birds series commencing in 1976. The artist continued with his Indian Birds series in 1977. The present lot, Brazilian Merganser executed in 1980, exemplifies the culmination of styles explored by the artist. Stella’s previous reservations as to the use of the rectangular ground are unapparent as the curves in relief – often referred to as French curves, or suggestive of the musical G clefs – are properly supported compositionally. Brazilian Merganser illustrates Frank Stella’s repeated use of collage, aluminum, high and low relief, and hot colors in his later work.
    “Insofar as the multiple curvilinear forms in the Exotic Birds want a foil, they seem to have confirmed Stella’s return to a straightedge rectangular picture field, which the artist thought necessary to support the irregular curves. The play of the curved planes against this more regular rectilinear ground to which they were attached constituted a form of figure-ground relationship, a pictorial convention that Stella had heretofore largely avoided” (W. Rublin, Frank Stella 1970 – 1987, New York, 1987, p.68).

  • 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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Brazilian Merganser

Oil, glitter, oilstick, and aluminum on Tycore.
85 x 61 in. (215.9 x 154.9 cm).

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $116,500

Contemporary Art Part I

13 Nov 2008, 7pm
New York