Frank Stella, ‘"Mosport"’, 1982, Scott White Contemporary Art

Mosport is an important example of the Circuit series by Frank Stella, and has been exhibited in major museums around the world. Illustrated in full color in the Museum of Modern Art's exhibition catalogue, it was selected over many other examples of the artist's work to be included in this important show.

William Rubin once called the Circuit paintings Stella's "largest and, I believe, most successful group of paintings yet." He was working on his Charles Eliot Norton lectures for Harvard at the time that he was finishing up this series, thus it represents a certain apogee of his career-long project of thinking about the role of space, literalism, and illusionism in art: his and that of others. These works combine painting done by Stella in the studio and etched patterns executed in the factory. This comes together to dissolve the planes of the shaped aluminum components into an unprecedented degree of illusionistic optical play that makes of the relief nothing short of a thicket, which the eye struggles to penetrate. As in the preceding Exotic Birds and Indian Birds series' of works, Circuit paintings like Mosport are comprised not of shapes composed in Stella's mind, but specialized metal curves used for practical purposes in railroad, shipping, architectural, and industrial contexts. These Stella selects and mixes to create his compoistions, and it is also in part to defeat the factory-made nature of these materials that he introduces painterly elements of gestural drawing.

"Frank Stella: 1970-1987", Museum of Modern Art, New York (illustrated in catalog), October 12, 1987-January 5, 1988. Traveled to the following museums until August 13, 1989:
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Museo Nacional Centro D'Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid
Haus der Kunst, Munich

"Frank Stella: 1970 - 1987", William Rubin; pictured on page 99, noted on page 166. (catalog from Museum of Modern Art exhibition)

Knoedler Gallery, New York
Park International, Inc.
Ed Calesa
Stephen Way
Private Collection, USA

About Frank Stella

Frank Stella, an iconic figure of postwar American art, is considered the most influential painter of a generation that moved beyond Abstract Expressionism toward Minimalism. In his early work, Stella attempted to drain any external meaning or symbolism from painting, reducing his images to geometric form and eliminating illusionistic effects. His goal was to make paintings in which pictorial force came from materiality, not from symbolic meaning. He famously quipped, “What you see is what you see,” a statement that became the unofficial credo of Minimalist practice. In the 1980s and '90s, Stella turned away from Minimalism, adopting a more additive approach for a series of twisting, monumental, polychromatic metal wall reliefs and sculptures based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

American, b. 1936, Malden, Massachusetts, based in New York and Rock Tavern, New York