Posted 14 September 2015 by Kat
This crazy coloured painting is by Frank Stella and it is called Hyena Stomp.
Frank Stella, Hyena Stomp, 1962, © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2015 c. Tate
It was painted in 1962 and the title comes from a melody written by the Jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton. Yes that is his real name! Stella loved Jazz, when he was at college he used to collect early American Jazz records. What he liked most about Jazz was syncopation, which is when the melodies sound offbeat and a bit unexpected. In Hyena Stomp Stella is trying to do the same kind of thing with painting. The colours of the stripes keep changing.
Try following a stripe with your eyes; can you see how the colour just stops and another one takes over? Also the diagonal white lines cutting through the square don’t meet in the middle. A bit like the music, they are offbeat.
Frank Stella was born in Massachusetts in America in 1936 and is best known as a minimalist artist. Minimalist art began in the 1950s with a group of artists who did not make paintings and sculptures about the things they saw in the world, like a house, or a bottle, or a snowy landscape. They made paintings and sculptures about the materials they used, like paint, and wood and metal. Their art works looked like they might have been made in a factory.
When Stella was in his early 20s he began a series of paintings called The Black Paintings. Here is a lithograph of what one of them looked like. The Museum of Modern Art, in New York was so impressed with these paintings that they bought some of them.
Frank Stella, [title not known] 1967, © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2015 c. Tate
After that, Stella became known as a hard-edged painter. This was because he used acrylic paints, which are very bright and dry quickly, not like oil paint, and because he used canvases that had not been treated with a base coat of primer, so they looked raw and unfinished.
Frank Stella, Untitled (Rabat) 1964, © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2015, c. Tate
Over the years his hard-edge paintings got more and more complicated. He stopped using rectangular canvases and started to use canvases of different shapes, like an oval or a V. He then stopped hanging them on walls, and instead put them on the floor, like sculptures and made 3 dimensional versions like this one, called ‘Salta nel mio Sacco’, 1984.
Frank Stella, Salta nel mio Sacco, 1984, © ARS, NY and DACS, London 2015, c. Tate
What do you think of Stella’s artwork? Its is jazzy enough for you? Could you try to make a Frank Stella-inspired artwork on Tate Paint?
Tags: abstract, frank stella., Jazz, Minimalism, Painting
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