American artist Frank Stella, 81, best known for his minimalist and abstract styles, will tell you that, without travel, he wouldn’t have been able to sustain his career as long as he has.
“Seeing great art in different destinations gives me the motivation to keep going and holds me to a high standard professionally,” he said.
Now, Stella’s 60-year trajectory as an artist, which developed as he traveled the world, is on display in an exhibition, “Frank Stella: Experiment and Change,” at the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The show will run through July 8, and includes approximately 300 of his paintings, sculptures and drawings from the late 1950s to the present.
Stella lives in New York City and spends 30 to 40 percent of his time on the road for work, traveling to his exhibitions and giving talks on his art.
Q: How did an exhibition of your works end up in Fort Lauderdale? What is the city’s art scene like?
A: When I think about art in Fort Lauderdale, I also include Miami because they are so near each other, and together, they are a lot more visible now in the arts world than they were several years ago. The excitement around Art Basel, the show in Miami Beach, is an example of this visibility, but some of the museums are also high-caliber. The NSU Museum, for one, is in an interesting modernist building designed by the American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. I had visited the museum before and admired many of the works inside. I had also worked with the exhibit’s curator, Bonnie Clearwater, in the early 2000s on an exhibition of my art at the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, and when she approached me about this show, it was a no-brainer for me to say yes because of my relationship with her and my fondness for the museum.
Q: Which cities have the most exciting emerging arts scenes right now?
A: Among the art circles, the talk is about Abu Dhabi and Doha and the museums opening there. I haven’t been to either city, but for me, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Berlin, New York City, Los Angeles and Paris always showcase new artists in galleries.
Q: Do you have a favorite city to travel to for art?
A: I find many cities in Europe compelling for art including Munich, Berlin and Madrid, but Rome truly overwhelms me. The city has great museums, including the Galleria Borghese and the Vatican Museums, but the art inside the churches — the frescoes and paintings dating back to the Renaissance — is stunning.
Q: You live in New York City, a destination known for its fantastic museums. Which ones do you especially enjoy visiting?
A: The Frick Collection on the Upper East Side is lovable. And the Brooklyn Museum does some amazing exhibitions, including the one this summer of works by Georgia O’Keeffe.
Q: Can you explain further how travel influences you as an artist?
A: If you’re a practicing artist, you have to see some of the great art in the world, whether that art is by recent artists or by ones from past centuries. It’s not enough to just look at pictures of art because that will only take you so far. You won’t feel the breadth of the Sistine Chapel unless you see the Sistine Chapel in person. I learn a lot from traveling and looking at as much art as I possibly can.
Q: How do you capture memories from your travels? Do you sketch or take pictures?
A: I never do either. The experiences from my travels either stay with me or they don’t, and if they do, that memory is captured in my mind. That’s good enough for me.