TMA Purchases Two Works by Frank Stella

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The Toledo Museum of Art has expanded its holdings of post-World War II American abstract art by acquiring two works by Frank Stella (born 1936), Conway I and La penna di hu.

Director Brian Kennedy said these works not only enlarge the Museum’s abstract art collection but also enhance its initiatives in teaching visual literacy. “Stella’s clear emphasis on certain visual elements and principles—in his own words, ‘line, plane, volume and point, within space’ supports our efforts to give visitors a more enriching visual experience.”

Frank Stella (American, b. 1936) Conway I.  Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas. Toledo Museum of Art. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, gift of Edward Drummond Libbey by exchange, 1012.99 © Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Frank Stella (American, b. 1936) Conway I. Fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas. Toledo Museum of Art. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, gift of Edward Drummond Libbey by exchange, 2012.99 © Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Frank Stella (American, b. 1936) La penna di hu. Mixed media on etched magnesium, aluminum and fiberglass, 1987–2009. Toledo Museum of Art. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, gift of Edward Drummond Libbey by exchange, 1012.104 © Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Frank Stella (American, b. 1936) La penna di hu. Mixed media on etched magnesium, aluminum and fiberglass, 1987–2009. Toledo Museum of Art. Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, gift of Edward Drummond Libbey by exchange, 2012.104 © Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Conway I, created as part of the “Irregular Polygons” series in 1966, presents a large horizontal rectangle into which a smaller parallelogram is inserted from below. The surface is demarcated from edge to edge by five colors of fluorescent alkyd and epoxy paints on canvas: a hot red that dominates most of the upper rectangle; the pale blue-white “lozenge” shape that partially overlaps into the red field, and three eight-inch stripes in silvery-white, gray-green and hot pink that serve as distinct boundary lines.

Conway I joins Stella’s 1969 Lac Laronge IV in Toledo’s collection, bringing together two paintings that frame a three-year period of significant transition for the artist

La penna di hu is a keynote work for Stella, the culmination of his more than two decades spent exploring formal combinations of various shapes. It is a sculpture uniquely suited to the most fundamental terms of visual analysis because of its varying degrees of translucency and transparency and its variety of intersecting or otherwise interacting shapes.

Not unlike an unfurled peacock tail, the work is brightly colored, dazzling, active and aptly named. Translated into English, the title means “The Peacock Feather” and is named for an Italian folktale that reminds us of the artist’s ancestry in Sicily.

Visitors to the Toledo Museum of Art will find La penna di hu in Gallery 1 and Conway I in the Wolfe Gallery for Contemporary Art, both located in the Museum’s east wing.


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