Frank Stella: Albatross at Surovek Gallery

I like real art. It’s difficult to define REAL but it is the best word for describing what I like to get out of art and what the best art has. It has the ability to convince you that it’s present - that it’s there. You could say it’s authentic…but real is actually a better word, broad as it may be.
– Frank Stella


In 1977, Frank Stella (b. 1936) was a 41 year-old, well-established artist who had pushed the boundaries of 20th century art. His early black paintings were minimal, impersonal - the opposite of the Abstract Expressionist movement that came before. 


As time went on, Stella began to focus on color, shape and composition. In October 1977, Stella spent time working in Ahmedabad, India at the invitation of the prominent Sarabhai family, industrialists with family members who were interested in the arts. The family often invited artists to visit, and supplied the artists with materials and a team of assistants.


Stella’s reputation as a fine artist had been established as early as 1970, when the Museum of Modern Art presented a retrospective of his work. He was 36 years old when the retrospective was held, making him the youngest artist to be given a retrospective at MoMA.


The project that Stella worked on during his visit to Ahmedabad was the Indian Bird Series. He began by creating preparatory drawings, using curved drafting tools. He made two drawings for each work and used the drawings to create maquettes of tin alloy. 


The series was fabricated in New York. Each piece was made of metal, at least five times larger than the maquette. Stella completed each piece by painting it with enamel and glitter. He insisted that the three-dimensional works were paintings, not sculptures. He created lithographs from the drawings in the series. Albatross, one of the lithographs from the Exotic Bird Series, is available at Surovek Gallery.


The twelve finished works are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and other major museums and public institutions. Six of the works from the Indian Bird series are on display at the Mnuchin Gallery in New York, alongside some of the archival drawings and maquettes. 


Frank Stella: Indian Birds will be on view at the Mnuchin Gallery through December 9, 2023.


Around 2010, Stella began creating computer-generated designs for larger stand-alone, star-shaped sculptures, one of which was installed at 7 World Trade Center in 2021. Needing a large space to fabricate these works, Stella built a studio in Rock Tavern, New York in 2015. He commutes from his home in Manhattan to Rock Tavern to work on his large sculptures.




Kame Hame. In a Historic First, Mnuchin Gallery Presents Frank Stella’s Indian Birds Series. Widewalls. October 23, 2023.

Hrag Vartanian. 15 Art Shows to See in New York This November/Frank Stella: Indian Birds. Hyperallergic. October 31, 2023. 

November 3, 2023
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