Frank Stella Prints anchors spring season exhibitions at the Addison Gallery

Celebrate the opening reception April 21

by Neil C Evans

April 12, 2017

—This spring, the Addison Gallery of American Art, located on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, will present Frank Stella Prints: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation. Throughout his prolific and influential career, Frank Stella, a Phillips Academy alumnus (Class of 1954), has been a major figure in the art world, internationally hailed as one of America’s most significant artists. In his paintings, metal reliefs, sculptures, and prints, he has explored abstraction, which emerged during the early twentieth century in the innovations of artists such as Vassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, and Pablo Picasso. A pioneer of minimalism in the 1960s, Stella continues to experiment and innovate, creating some of the most daring work to be seen today. Frank Stella Prints, organized by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art in Wisconsin and curated by Richard H. Axsom, will be on view at the Addison through July 30, 2017.

StellaFrank Stella, Extracts from Moby Dick Deckle Edges, 1993, lithograph, etching, aquatint, relief, and screenprint on white TGL, handmade paper, 34 ½ x 42 ¾ in., National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased with the assistance of the Orde Poynton Fund 2002. © 2017 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Stella’s first major print retrospective since 1982, the exhibition includes more than 100 editioned prints, drawn from the collection of Jordan Schnitzer and his Family Foundation, which demonstrate the artist’s remarkable career as a printmaker. Challenging traditional print media, Stella engaged in a series of stylistic reinventions from the geometric abstraction of minimalism in the early 1960s to the baroque exuberance of his later gestural work.

Many of Stella’s most important print series are represented in the exhibition, including: Black Series I (1967), Exotic Birds (1977), Polar Co-ordinates for Ronnie Peterson (1980), Circuits (1982–83), Swan Engravings (1982–85), Moby Dick Engravings (1991), Imaginary Places (1994–99), Near East Monoprints (1999–2001), and his final series, the Schwarze Weisheit Series (2000). Stella’s titles are richly allusive and range in meanings from the historical, geographical, and political to the personal and literary, the latter reflecting the artist’s emerging interest in “abstract narration” in the 1980s. Referring to nineteenth-century American clipper ships, Civil War battles, endangered and extinct birds, Formula 1 racetracks, Italian folktales, and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, the titles add another symbolic dimension to Stella’s richly layered art.

StellaFrank Stella, Pergusa Three, TP II, from Circuits, 1983, relief and woodcut on white TLG, handmade, hand-colored paper, 66 x 52 in., collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer. © 2017 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The dedication and imagination of Frank Stella have shaped an artistic endeavor of singular achievement and perpetual invention. His abstraction has ranged from precise geometry to free and ebullient gesture, from stark black and gray to luminous color. He has created a body of work of remarkable dimension that encompasses solemnity and antic humor, the elegiac and the ecstatic. His reinvigoration of the expressive potential and power of abstraction remains his most profound legacy. Stella’s prints recapitulate and expand upon the remarkable scope of his work in other media, standing as an authentic index to the genius of his art.

ALSO ON VIEW

Four exhibitions presenting works from the museum’s permanent collection will be on view through July 30, 2017:

The Gifts of Frank Stella

Complementing Frank Stella Prints, this exhibition highlights works generously donated by the artist to the Addison, honoring his innovative, rich career and his long-standing generosity both as a donor and visiting artist to the Addison Gallery and Phillips Academy.

While a student, Stella began to seriously pursue art, studying under the guidance of teachers Patrick Morgan and Gordon (Diz) Bensley. As he recalled, “At Andover I was already interested in art, but the opportunities there seemed to thrust themselves at me.” As he took art classes in the basement of the museum and learned from the collections in its galleries, Stella found great inspiration in the Addison’s environment. Reminiscing about his experiences, he has said, “If a young person walks through a gallery of American painting in 1950 and confronts the work of Copley, Inness, Sargent, Eakins, Remington, Homer, Dove, Hartley, Hofmann, Pollock, and Kline he will want to paint like Hofmann, Pollock, and Kline, admiring Hartley and Dove for the proximity to the former, and acknowledging the rest for their accomplishment and effort in facing the task of art. Looking at what happened and is happening, one has to want to do what is happening. Immediate sources count for a lot.”

In 1991, keen to expand the Addison’s offering of “immediate sources,” Stella teamed up with then director Jock Reynolds to organize an Addison Art Drive, aimed at strengthening the holdings of contemporary art. Kicking off an ambitious campaign to add one hundred significant works to the collection, Stella invited Reynolds to select works from his personal collection. The masterworks assembled here—by artists such as Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly, and Stella himself—reflect that magnanimous and transformative gift.

Respect Existence or Expect Resistance

On view the Addison’s Museum Learning Center, the 38 photographs assembled here not only bear witness to a seminal period in American history but also attest to the important role photography played in the Civil Rights movement. Activists and journalists on both sides of the struggle realized early on the power of images to awaken public outrage, raise awareness, and elicit support. Although the roots of the movement stretched back centuries, images of the African American fight for equality gained far greater exposure in the 1950s and 60s than in previous decades as pictures of white aggression, black suffering, police brutality, freedom marches, sit-ins, and funerals, were widely broadcast on TV and published in books, magazines, newspapers, and posters. The potency of these images forced Americans to see the brutal realities of segregated America and motivated many to act.

In addition to influencing activists in the 1960s and 70s, such as those protesting for women’s rights or against the Vietnam War, the tenacity and courage of Civil Rights leaders and movement members continue to inspire those advocating for social justice today. It is difficult to consider these images without thinking about the protests and demands for equality occurring across the United States today. Certainly the slogan “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance” which is currently being used on protest signs and T-shirts, embodies the spirit and message of the Civil Rights movement. Describing the resonance and lasting legacy of Civil Rights era photographs, author and photographer Steven Kasher has written: “They are an essential part of our vision of a true democracy. They are documents that can inspire us to find new ways out of our current morass. We must look at these pictures and feel embarrassment and fear and rage. We must look them and feel hope. We must look at them to learn new ways to transform our nation."

Eye on the Collection

Rounding out the season, this exhibition brings together old favorites and rarely displayed works spanning the 18th through 20th centuries. Reflecting the Addison’s commitment to presenting a wide range of works, both well-known and lesser-known, for discovery and appreciation, Eye on the Collection presents a selection of paintings and sculpture spanning the 18th through 20th centuries, by artists including John James Audubon, Maria Oakey Dewing, Thomas Eakins, Franz Kline, Hans Hofmann, Winslow Homer, Jacob Lawrence, Maud Morgan, Louise Nevelson, and James McNeill Whistler.

SPRING PROGRAMS AT THE ADDISON

Opening Reception

Celebrate the opening of the spring exhibitions with the artist, collector, and Addison staff while enjoying a glass of wine and a bite to eat. Free and open to the public.
Friday, April 21, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Panel Discussion for Frank Stella Prints

Artist Frank Stella, collector Jordan D. Schnitzer, exhibition curator Richard H. Axsom, and master printmaker Kenneth Tyler will share their unique viewpoints on the art and exhibition. Addison Director Judith F. Dolkart will moderate the discussion. The event will take place in Kemper Auditorium adjacent to the Addison. The event is free. Space is limited; please register online at bit.ly/2na2AWT or call 978.749.4216 to reserve your seat.
Saturday, April 22, 4:00 p.m.

Evening Gallery Tour of Frank Stella Prints

Join Addison Director Judith F. Dolkart on the final late Wednesday of the season for a walk-through and discussion of Frank Stella Prints. This program has been organized with Andover's Memorial Hall Library. The event is free, but space is limited; please register online at mhl.org/events or call 978.623.8430.
Wednesday, May 31, 7:00 p.m.

Youth Printmaking Classes

Experiment with colors, techniques, and materials inspired by the work of Frank Stella through art classes offered in collaboration with the Essex Art Center. Classes will meet at the Essex Art Center and will include a visit to the Addison Gallery. For more information and to register, visit essexartcenter.org. Space is limited, so sign up early!

7-week workshop for ages 8–11: Thursdays, April 27–June 8, 4:00 – 5:45 p.m. ($115)
1-day workshop for ages 6–11: Thursday, July 11, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ($55)
1-day workshop for ages 11–16: Thursday, July 11, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ($55)

LOOKING AHEAD

Mark Tobey: Threading Light
Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy: May 6 – September 10
Addison Gallery of American Art: November 4, 2017 – March 11, 2018

Invisible Citings: Elaine Reichek and Jeanne Silverthorne
September 16 – December 31, 2017