In March 1970, a major retrospective exhibition opened at the Museum of Modern Art. The artist, Frank Stella, was then thirty-four, which may seem unremarkable today, when the work of unfledged recent art-school graduates is routinely exhibited, but was astonishingly young in a era when painters and sculptors were supposed to spend decades maturing and honing their efforts before presenting them to the public. (Only Helen Frankenthaler, just thirty-one when her retrospective at the Jewish Museum opened in January 1960, outdid Stella for precocity.) A second Stella survey, beginning where the 1970 show ended, was held at MOMA in the fall of 1987. Now “Frank Stella: A Retrospective” at the Whitney Museum of American Art presents, for the first time in America, a complete overview of this protean artist’s extraordinary six decades of exploration and innovation.

 

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