American abstract artist Frank Stella is having a moment. From garage and street art to abstract expressionism, the iconic post-war artist does it all. Coinciding with his much anticipated retrospective at The Whitney Museum in New York, Stella is having a knock out show at Bernard Jacobson Gallery in London. The exhibition includes mixed-media pieces and sculptures from his iconic 1990s and 2000s series.
The dominating piece of the installation is, without a doubt, the monumental 50 foot long, seven panel painting “Die Marquise von O…” (1999). The title refers to a novel by Heinrich von Kleist, a solitary genius and visionary writer. Kleist notoriously shot his sick friend Henriette Vogel in 1811 and turned the gun on himself in a suicide pact on the banks of the Kleiner Wannsee in Berlin at the age of 34. In Kleist’ novel, the Marquise von O, a young widow mysteriously finds herself pregnant. This character is shown in moments of deep crises and plunged into states of extreme uncertainty. The artist’s title choice and inspiration is certainly what makes this painting so intense.
The extremely detailed gigantic painting is a mix of flashy, odd material and abstract geometrical shapes. The mixed-media piece is overwhelming and oddly interesting, a testament to Stella’s ability to create seamless art of scale that provokes a roller coaster of emotions.
Another panel, “Michael Kohlhaas” (2000), belongs to a group of nine paintings, each measuring an astounding 14 x 14 feet. Hanging solitary under the skylight at the installation’s entrance, it prepares the viewers for the artist’s world within.
On the other side of the room, three metal sculptures contrast the flashy panels. It’s as if the painting exploded and part of the installation crashed through the wall. The juxtaposition of the sculptures’ austere ambiance and the flashy Marquise make for a perfectly imbalanced experience.
Stella has been a working artist since 1958. Born in 1936 in Malden, MA, the iconic figure of postwar American art became, at the age of 34, the youngest artist ever to have a retrospective exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. He then received a second retrospective, once more at the MoMA in 1987, which is an unprecedented occurrence in the museum’s history. Famous almost overnight for his ”Black Paintings’’ and compared to the anti-van Gogh, the Jacobson Gallery exhibition is a completely unique experience.
Frank Stella is featured at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery until November 21st in London. Click here for more information and make sure to bring a camera, the installation is social media gold.