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Frank Stella, pioneer of minimalism, post-painterly abstraction, dies at 87

NEW YORK (AP): Frank Stella, the celebrated artist whose continuously transforming artworks are revered as cornerstones of the minimalist and post-painterly abstraction movements, passed away at his Manhattan home on Saturday at the age of 87.

Gallery owner Jeffrey Deitch, who spoke with Stella’s family, confirmed his death to The Associated Press (AP). Stella’s wife, Harriet McGurk, told the New York Times that he died of lymphoma.

Born May 12, 1936, in Malden, Massachusetts, Stella studied at Princeton University before moving to New York City in the late 1950s.

Many prominent American artists had embraced abstract expressionism at that time, but Stella began exploring minimalism. By age 23, he had created a series of flat, black paintings with gridlike bands and stripes using house paint and exposed canvas that drew widespread critical acclaim.

Over the next decade, Stella’s works retained his rigorous structure but began incorporating curved lines and bright colors, such as in his influential Protractor series, named after the geometry tool he used to create the curved shapes of large-scale paintings.

In the late 1970s, Stella began adding three-dimensionality to his visual art, using metals and other mixed media to blur the boundary between painting and sculpture.

Stella continued to be productive well into his 80s, and his new work is currently on display at the Jeffrey Deitch Gallery in New York City. The colorful sculptures are massive and yet almost seem to float, made up of shining polychromatic bands that twist and coil through space.

“The current work is astonishing,” Deitch told the AP on Saturday. He felt that the work he showed was the culmination of a decades-long effort to create a new pictorial space and to fuse painting and sculpture.”