Frank Stella was born in Massachusetts, USA, in 1936. He attended Princeton University, where he earned a degree in history, before moving to New York in 1958.
At the age of 22, he began his Black Paintings, each composed of concentric bands or stripes in black enamel house paint on raw canvas. Four of these paintings were exhibited in the groundbreaking Sixteen Americans, together with works by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg in 1959 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, who bought the paintings for their collection.
Over the following decades Stella went on to experiment with colour, scale, surface, and texture in his paintings, often working in series to fully explore a theme. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s he made prints, paintings and sculptures inspired by Herman Melville's classic novel Moby Dick.
Stella began making prints in the late 1960s, working first with master printer Kenneth Tyler at Gemini G.E.L. Stella began with lithography, making prints that expanded upon formal concerns he explored in his paintings. In 1973 he had a print studio installed in his house. Stella now employs a vast array of techniques in his editions, including screenprinting, lithography, linoleum block, collage and hand colouring. In 2016 a major print retrospective travelled to Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Wisconsin; Phillips Academy, Massachusetts; and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Montgomery, Alabama.
Stella has exhibited his work internationally since 1959 and has been the subject of several retrospectives, most recently in 2015 at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in a show which travelled to Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; and de Young Museum, San Francisco. Since the 1990s Stella has made sculpture for public spaces and developed architectural projects. In 2001 a monumental sculpture was installed outside the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and in 2017 he was commissioned to make an installation for The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Stella's work in held in major museum collections worldwide including, Tate, London; Folkwang Museum, Essen; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest; Kunstmuseum Basel; Brooklyn Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Hishhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, Japan.
In 2009 he received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama.
Frank Stella lives and works in New York.