On view from October 4th – December 9th, 2023
Mnuchin Gallery is delighted to announce its forthcoming exhibition, Frank Stella: Indian Birds. In a historic first, the exhibition will present six of Stella’s Indian Birds, alongside the artist’s archival drawings and maquettes for the series. This broad display, focused on a singular body of work, will illuminate Stella’s intricate and multi-layered artistic process. On view from October 4th through December 9th, 2023, the exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, authored by Karen Wilkin.
In October 1977, Frank Stella arrived in Ahmedabad, India, at the invitation of the prominent Sarabhai family, whose foundation regularly extended hospitality to visiting artists. Assisted by the Sarabhai’s team, Stella would complete the preparatory drawings and maquettes that form the foundation of the Indian Bird series. To begin, he would create two drawings, A and B, comprised of irregular curves––arced shapes borrowed from drafting templates for railroad curves and ship curves, typically employed by engineers. By superimposing drawings A and B, Stella would create a third, which served as the blueprint for the tin alloy maquettes. The Indian Bird maquettes, displayed here as a complete set for the first time since their inaugural exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1979, provide a rare glimpse into Stella’s detailed conceptual practice.
While Stella is renowned for his prolific output, the Indian Birds are an exceptionally rare series consisting of only a dozen works, the majority of which are housed in esteemed museums and public institutions. Fabricated in New York between 1978 and 1979, the full-scale Indian Birds are monumental creations, each scaled 5.5x times larger than their respective maquettes. Characterized by an ornate grandeur, dynamism, and dramatic light and shadow, the Indian Birds have frequently sparked comparisons to Baroque art. Indeed, it was within this series that Stella vigorously explored the figure-ground relationship, pushing it to its utmost limits. Using a transparent gridded armature to suspend his technicolor and glittered metal curves, Stella created pictorial compositions that transcended the confines of two dimensions and challenge painting’s conventional notion of flatness.
Frank Stella: Indian Birds marks Mnuchin Gallery’s third presentation of the artist’s oeuvre, following exhibitions of his Exotic Birds (2009) and Black, Aluminum, and Copper Paintings (2012). In line with these previous exhibitions, the Indian Birds encapsulate Frank Stella’s well-established contributions to the American artistic tradition. At the same time, as they balance gravitas and playfulness, visual opulence and intellectual rigor, the works on view in this exhibition offer contemporary audiences the opportunity to form novel perspectives on the intersection of painting and sculpture.