Frank Stella, an iconic figure of postwar American art, is considered the most influential painter of a generation that moved beyond Abstract Expressionismtoward Minimalism.
In his early work, Stella attempted to drain any external meaning or symbolism from painting, reducing his images to geometric form and eliminating illusionistic effects. His goal was to make paintings in which pictorial force came from materiality, not from symbolic meaning. He famously quipped, “What you see is what you see,” a statement that became the unofficial credo of Minimalist practice. In the 1980s and '90s, Stella turned away from Minimalism, adopting a more additive approach for a series of twisting, monumental, polychromatic metal wall reliefs and sculptures based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.