Frank Stella’s studios, early and late
MA: How did it start from a small studio on East Broadway to this? This studio is literally approximately one square acre enclosed.
FS: . . .It’s a fairly natural evolution if you keep on working.
Michael Auping and Frank Stella in conversation, Tuesday Evenings at the Modern, April 12, 2016
Michael Auping began his conversation with Frank Stella in the present, with an image of the artist’s current studio in Newberg, New York, then moved the conversation to the artist’s historical early work.
Watching the eighty-year-old Stella in front of a packed house and below large projections of his work, it was clear that the artist is secure in his choices for his life and career, and it seems that he always has been. There is a playful banter between the two men who have been working on the exhibition Frank Stella: A Retrospective for an extended period of time and surely know what to expect from each other in a public conversation. Nevertheless, the conversation was fresh, and Stella let nothing slide—and for the sake of the audience, Auping left some disagreements unchallenged while pushing on others. Stella’s thoughtful and determined responses to Auping’s carefully considered questions and observations was a reminder of the incredible confidence he exuded as a young artist who boldly stated in a 1964 interview, “What you see is what you see”—a proclamation credited with changing the direction of art, or at the very least bringing into supreme focus the direction art was moving.
Despite what appear to be radical shifts in Stella’s work from series to series over the last sixty years, it seems that his early conviction, “what you see is what you see,” still rings true. Perhaps at the core, not that much has changed from the Black Paintings to the most recent work—a revelation that has me reconsidering each series and each piece within. It was a real pleasure to hear from someone of Stella’s experience, whose ideas took root in the beginning of what has been remarkable career.