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American abstract artist, Frank Stella dies at 87

Frank Stella

Frank Stella, American abstract artist, died Saturday at 87 in Manhattan. Cause of death was lymphoma according to wife Harriet McGurk.

Rep Marianne Boesky said in a statement, “Working with Frank for the past decade is an honor. He leaves a remarkable legacy.”

Stella, born 1936 Massachusetts, studied painting under Patrick Morgan at Phillips Academy Andover. Continued studies in history and painting at Princeton under Stephen Greene and Willliam Seitz. Moved to NYC in late 1950s.

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Achieved early fame with monochromatic “Black Paintings” exhibited at MoMA at 22. These works became his biggest contribution to postwar abstract movement. Used house paint and wide brush to create black stripes with thin exposed canvas lines.

Stella remained productive for six decades, incorporating mixed media and geometric canvases into his work, blurring the lines between painting and sculpture.

Acclaimed works include “Protractor Series” featuring curved lines and bright colors (late 1960s/early 1970s) and neon-speckled “Moby Dick” sculptures (1980s/1990s).

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A giant of the art world, Stella’s influence transcended the abstract movement. His ability to push boundaries and challenge traditional notions of painting and sculpture secured his place among the most important artists of the 20th century.

His early “Black Paintings” helped lay the groundwork for Minimalism, a major art movement that emphasizes simplicity and basic shapes. Even today, Stella’s exploration of geometric shapes and the blurring of lines between painting and sculpture continues to inspire contemporary artists working in geometric abstraction.