Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy - The Secret World of Frank Stella

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Hollis Frampton , (Mar 11, 1936–Mar 30, 1984)

The Secret World of Frank Stella


Medium and Support: fifty-two gelatin silver prints, in four suites of thirteen on unmatted in archi
Credit Line: gift of Marion Faller, Addison Art Drive
Accession Number: 1990.34.1-52


Frank Stella (Class of 1954), one of the most significant and influential American artists of the postwar period, began his journey as a painter six decades ago in the basement of the Addison Gallery of American Art. It was also at Andover that he first met Hollis Frampton (Class of 1954), who went on to become an equally distinguished photographer and filmmaker. Four years after graduation from Phillips Academy, the two met again in New York, where they briefly shared an apartment and rekindled what was to be a lifelong friendship. Frampton began his series of fifty-two black-and-white images, The Secret World of Frank Stella, in collaboration with Stella, who posed both in his studio and across the city.

In fact, 1958 is a milestone in the careers of both artists; for Frampton, it was the year he reconnected with Andover classmates Frank Stella and Carl Andre (Class of 1953) and settled in New York; for Stella, it was the year Leo Castelli first visited his Broadway studio and saw his now famous Black Paintings. The time period documented by Frampton’s series includes several other noteworthy moments in Stella’s career; the presentation of his Black Paintings—an example can be seen in #3 (28 painting Getty Tomb)—in the 1959-60 MoMA exhibition Sixteen Americans (Frampton also took Stella’s picture for the accompanying exhibition catalogue) was followed by the creation of two more series of stripe paintings, Aluminum and Copper, examples of which can be seen in #5 (112 hand through hole in aluminum ptg) and #45 (688 naked, ventral view) respectively.

In addition to photographing Stella and his paintings, Frampton also wrote about him; one such instance is the following passage from 12 Dialogues 1962-1963, a book he co-authored with Carl Andre: “Frank Stella is a Constructivist. He makes paintings by combining identical, discrete units. Those units are not stripes, but brush strokes. We have both watched Frank Stella paint a picture. He fills in a pattern with uniform elements. His stripe designs are the result of the shape and limitation of his primary unit.” Throughout 12 Dialogues, Frampton and Andre often refer to Stella to illustrate their intellectually rigorous analysis of various aesthetic issues pertaining to specific mediums or works of art. Indeed, Stella’s own intellectually rigorous approach to painting is, in great part, what elevated him to the pantheon of abstract art.

Kelley Tialiou
Charles H. Sawyer Curatorial Assistant | Librarian | Archivist

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