Frank Stella

American (Malden, Massachusetts, 1936)

In 1958, just a few years after graduating from Princeton, Frank Stella began his groundbreaking "black paintings." These austere works were composed of parallel stripes determined by the proportions of the canvas and the width of the paintbrush. They had no meaning beyond their physical form; or, as Stella famously put it, "What you see is what you see."

His subsequent practice, while diverse, has continued his interrogation of abstraction. Paintings based on the rejection of the conventionally rectangular canvas gave way to complex wall reliefs made from paint, cardboard, and felt. He further blurred the distinction between painting and sculpture in baroque works that practically burst off the wall.


From June 3, 2013, through early 2016, SFMOMA's building on Third Street in San Francisco will be temporarily closed for expansion construction. Selected artworks in our collection are included in a range of off-site exhibitions during this period. We regret that the remainder of the collection will not be available for study during this time.

In the meantime, we invite you to explore a wide selection of our collection online. Please note that the information presented online is subject to revision. Please contact us at collections@sfmoma.org to verify artwork details.

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