The Awe Of Frank Stella At NY MOMA

Frank Stella, Harran II, 1967, polymer and fluorescent polymer paint on canvas, 10 x 20 feet, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Gift of Irving Blum, 1982

People ask what first made me want to make art. I clearly remember how inspiring my first trip to New York was, and my spring awakening as an artist.

I had just graduated from high school in Minnesota a year earlier, but I can still remember the Easter 1970 NY MOMA Frank Stella retrospective as if it happened yesterday. I was 18 and on a theater group trip to New York.


Stella was only 34 at the time. The youngest artist retrospective ever featured at NY MOMA up to that point. Stella’s effect on me, although not limited to vertical or horizontal stripe paintings, was profound.

To this day I hold Stella up as my breakthrough guiding light, mentor, sherpa—whatever the term is. His amazing “super graphic” works as I called them back then, were some of the first large scale geometric abstract or non-objective works I had encountered. The work made me forget any troubles I may have had back in Minnesota.


I think I responded to how contemporary the art was, not old school or medieval or renaissance. To me that was fresh, and my heart just sang looking at them back then. They still bring that feeling back to me today when I look at his work.

Frank Stella, Concentric Square, 1966, acrylic on canvas on canvas, 63 x 63 in., private collection
Frank Stella, Abra Variation I, 1969, fluorescent alkyd on canvas, 10’ x 9’-11 7/8”, MOMA, Gift of Philip Johnson in honor of William Rubin

To me Stella’s work was dramatic and daring. Confident and superbly executed. Transportive. Executed with authority. All attributes that I want to radiate from my own work, and still strive to achieve as I move into being a more seasoned and accomplished artist.

I invite you to explore my work here.