Frank Stella Has Always Been a Star

On a recent day this fall, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut, unveiled a new exhibition. Centered on star-focused works by master American artist Frank Stella, the show bursts with a sense of joy. And since the curatorial offering, which is formally titled “Frank Stella’s Stars, A Survey,” is scheduled to remain on view through early next May, there’s plenty of time to venture over to the constitutional state in order to see it.


But for the time being, we here at AD couldn’t help but be reminded of our own 100-year archive, which brims with colorful Stella finds. A clear standout is a September 1983 visit to Stella’s own studio. Comprised of pictures of the space and an illuminating interview with the artist himself, the feature is a stellar piece in its own right—thanks in part to its memorable quotes. 


“I’m driven by anxiety, but not by doubt,” Stella told writer Avis Berman at one point in his interview. “Anxiety on how to do something and how to do it well, but never doubt whether to do it in the first place. The answer is always yes.” Yes, it seems, was the answer when he began work on his lesser-known metal sculptures. Those pieces were a dominant area of interest for Stella in the year that the article was published, and could be glimpsed in the accompanying photo portfolio.


Some of the pieces, which were photographed by Hans Namuth for the magazine, share a clear through line with the works now on view at the Aldrich. While the scale of those sculptures ranges from pedestal perfect to down-right monumental, they are a united testament to Stella’s far-ranging prowess. It’s worth noting that the exhibit also features some two-dimensional canvases, which recall Stella’s famous paintings. Of those works, the artist reflected to Architectural Digest: “People thought my painting was narrow and focused, but it didn’t seem that way to me. I thought it was inclusive.”