How About Them Apples?

The Menil unveils a Frank show

After graduating from Princeton in 1958, 22-year-old Frank Stella moved into a cramped apartment in New York's SoHo district. Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg were already internationally known artists, and NYC was where the most exciting modern art was happening. Stella would become a major star of the minimalist movement and would help establish New York City as the art capital of the world. But you wouldn't think it from the works included in "Frank Stella 1958," the Menil Collection's exhibit of paintings from Stella's first year in New York, including some pieces he created as a college student. As might be expected from a young artist, the paintings feel a little graceless. Morro Castle, for example, looks like a study for Stella's popular Black Paintings: pinstripes on black, which give the illusion of depth. The early piece feels indifferent about its motives. Others, such as Red River Valley and Them Apples, seem like tributes to Johns. What makes the exhibit exciting, though, is the opportunity to glimpse a compact moment of Stella's career: when he worshiped his heroes and was poised to become one himself.
Wednesdays-Sundays; Fri., May 26, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Starts: May 25. Continues through Aug. 20
 
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