Frank Stella, in full Frank Philip Stella, (born May 12, 1936, Malden, Massachusetts, U.S.), American painter who began as a leading figure in the Minimalist art movement and later became known for his irregularly shaped works and large-scale multimedia reliefs.
Stella studied painting at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and history at Princeton University (B.A., 1958). He originally painted in an Abstract Expressionist style, but, upon moving to New York City in the late 1950s, he began work on a series of innovative paintings marked by an austere and monumental simplicity of design. The “black paintings,” which established his reputation, incorporated symmetrical series of thin white stripes that replicated the canvas shape when seen against their black backgrounds. Those works—e.g., The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II (1959)—were included in the landmark exhibition “Sixteen Americans” at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1959–60. He had his first solo exhibition in 1960 at the Leo Castelli Gallery, also in New York City. In the early 1960s Stella painted a series of progressively more complex variations on the theme of the frame-determined design and used both metallic-coloured paints and irregularly shaped canvases to that purpose. Stella expanded his use of colour in the Protractor series (1967–71), an influential group of paintings marked by intersecting geometric and curvilinear shapes and plays of vivid and harmonious colours, some of which were fluorescent.