Rarely do citizens of a city the size of Montgomery have an opportunity to see a retrospective exhibition of a great living artist here at home. Frank Stella Prints: A Retrospective from the Collections of Jordan Schnitzer and his Family Foundation, is one of those rare occasions, with 84 works on paper (some of which are extremely large) that are on view at the MMFA through October 29.
For over 50 years, American artist Frank Stella (born 1936) has created a significant body of abstract paintings, reliefs, sculptures, drawings, and prints. Frank Stella Prints illustrates the artist’s remarkable career as a printmaker and shows how his highly experimental endeavors have redefined printmaking. Stella’s three decades of collaboration with master printmaker Ken Tyler, first at Gemini GEL and then at Tyler Graphics, set the standard for contemporary printmaking during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Together, the two men pioneered new techniques to produce unorthodox blends of relief, intaglio, lithography, and screen-printing, as well as hand-painted monoprints. Through it all, Stella’s style evolved from the minimalist geometric abstraction of his early years to the baroque exuberance of his later gestural work.
It’s all on view at the MMFA thanks to the generosity of Jordan Schnitzer, a philanthropist in Portland, Oregon, whose collection of 15,000 (yes, fifteen thousand) contemporary works on paper—a veritable lending library of art—is the source of this exhibition as well as the Andy Warhol exhibition at the High Museum in Atlanta that closes on Sunday, September 10. Both exhibitions have toured the country courtesy of the generous Jordan Schnitzer, bringing world-class modern art to cities large and small.
Frank Stella Prints premiered at the Madison (WI) Museum of Contemporary Art, where Dr. Richard H. Axsom, Curator Emeritus, organized the show and authored the hefty catalogue raisonné of Stella’s prints, which is available for purchase in the MMFA store. The exhibition then went to the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, Stella’s alma mater. At the Addison, Stella, Tyler, Axsom, and Schnitzer participated in an insightful panel discussion that addresses the renowned artist’s collaboration with the master printmaker and his atelier, as well as the insights of the curator and collector. Thanks to the Addison, that wide-ranging conversation is as close as your phone, computer, or digital assistant – just click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFbFnSHuFHA&feature=youtu.be.
Thanks to Jordan Schnitzer and local exhibition sponsors Laura and Barrie Harmon, Melissa and Frank Wilson, Ann Hubbert, Dr. Maria Wohlman and John Crews, Frank Stella Prints is as close as the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. It’s a rare opportunity to see a retrospective exhibition of a great living artist right here at home. Don’t miss it.
Michael W. Panhorst, Ph.D.
Curator of Art