Installation view of the exhibition, "Frank Stella" March 24, 1970–June 2, 1970 (Paintings); March 24, 1970–May 24, 1970 (Drawings). Photographic Archive. The Museum of Modern Art Archives, New York. IN922.1. Photograph by James Mathews.

Frank Stella

March 24–June 2, 1970 The Museum of Modern Art

In 1970, MoMA presented the first retrospective of the young abstract artist Frank Stella. Then just 33 years old, he was—and still is—the youngest artist ever to have a retrospective at the Museum. The exhibition covered roughly a decade’s worth of the artist’s paintings and drawings, foregrounding his pioneering shaped canvases and emphasis on serial structures. The press release emphasized Stella’s originality and influence: “At a time when abstract painting is frequently characterized by narrowness of its stylistic range, Stella’s exhibition reveals an extraordinary variety, not simply in the aesthetic structuring of the pictures but in their expressive character.” William Rubin, Chief Curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture, argued in the catalogue that just as the painterly exuberance of Abstract Expressionism seemed to run its course, “Stella had contributed to the already varied vocabulary of American art…one of the few genuinely new paths for the continued development of major non-figurative art.”

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