‘…an around-the-world adventure story…’
As a gallery focusing on the original prints and works on paper of American 20th-century artists, it should come as no surprise that we adore the work of Frank Stella (b. 1936). In fact, so enamoured are we with the artist and the ground breaking, mould shattering advancements Stella has made in the medium of modern printmaking, that we devote a considerable part of our time exclusively to his work. Read on to learn more about one of the defining series of Stella’s career to date, ‘The Waves’, to which the artist devoted twelve years of his life between 1985 to 1997.
The sheer variety of media that Stella employs so expertly in this series is astounding: screenprinting, lithography, collage, linocutting and most significantly hand-colouring. Over the many decades of his career, Frank Stella has made major contributions to modern printmaking, recasting it from a mode of reproduction to a major artistic medium in its own right. With ‘The Waves’ series, which consists of 13 artworks, each one printed as an edition of 60, Stella hand-coloured each print, leaving evidence of his presence within the creative process of every one of the artworks.
It may surprise you to discover that the inspiration for this series came from Herman Melville's magnum opus ‘Moby-Dick’. Frank Stella commented that Melville’s work ‘was an around-the-world adventure story about struggling with larger-than-life forces’. Such a classic novel hardly seems the most likely inspiration for the art of one of the founders of American minimalism and post-painterly abstraction, however in the midst of each work the viewer can indeed find many whale and wave-like forms. The title of each work also alludes to the moment in the book that Stella is inspired by. Here we look at three such works from this defining series…