Frank Stella | Recent Sculpture

Frank Stella - Scarlatti Sonata Kirkpatrick, 2014


It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer scale of the sculptures Frank Stella is showing in NYC for the first time at Jeffrey Deitch’s Wooster street gallery. The massive swirling compositions of forms and colors barely fit within the double height interior space.

The five sculptures are described by Stella as a fusion of sculpture and painting and an exploration of work that is built rather than painted. The gallery’s upper mezzanine offers a rare peek at how the exhibit was planned and developed. On view is a meticulously fabricated steel scale model of the gallery interior with 3d printed and painted maquettes of each of the works. These are the physical models Stella used to communicate proof of intent for the 3d digital models the pieces are actually created and fabricated from.

The 3d files were sent fabricators in the Netherlands and Belgium that normally specialize in shipbuilding for engineering and construction. The pieces are a mix of sculpted foam skinned with fiberglass and formed aluminum sheets. All of the surface painting was done in Stella’s upstate NY studio with sprayed automotive paint and a generous use of pearl clearcoats.

Full Description

Double wide flatbed trucks navigated the bridges into Manhattan to transport five monumental works by Frank Stella to Jeffrey Deitch’s SoHo gallery.

They are among the most ambitious and most radical works being made by any artist today. They extend Stella’s forms even further into three dimensions. The works are not painted sculptures or relief paintings. They completely fuse painting and sculpture in a way that has never been achieved before. The sculptures have never been shown in New York City.

Frank Stella said that one of the objectives of his recent artistic approach has been to “build a painting rather than painting a painting.” The new work is a realization of this ambition. Stella combines traditional artists’ techniques with high technology to create his new work. His monumental sculptures begin with computer models that are transformed into a series of small sculptural maquettes through 3-D printing. The artist refines these models in the studio and then sends them to fabricators in the Netherlands and Belgium where they are engineered and constructed using technology derived from shipbuilding. The sections are then shipped to Stella’s studio in the Hudson Valley where they are refined and painted with automotive paint.

The exhibition features works from two series, Scarlatti Sonata Kirkpatrick from 2014, and Atlantic Salmon Rivers from 2021-23. The Scarlatti Sonata Kirkpatrick sculptures are created with high density foam covered in fiberglass. The Grand Cascapedia, inspired by the Canadian river known for salmon fishing, is made from aluminum. As in all of Stella’s work, the forms embody their materials. The materials inspire the forms. 

Stella’s work of the 1980s were characterized by its extension of two-dimensional painting into his version of baroque space. These new works extend beyond baroque space into outer space. The forms seem to float in anti-gravity. They ascend, transcending their weight. They do not have front or a back, existing in the round.

Frank Stella has expanded the art discourse for more that six decades. His new work continues to advance art into a place where it has never been before.

Photos and Intro Text: Dave Pinter
Additional Description: Jeffrey Deitch Gallery