by Manu SharmaSep 27, 2022
Most famously known for creating abstract works that do not bear any semblance to influences found in nature or society, American artist, Frank Stella, achieved great acclaim in both paintings and sculptures. Born in Massachusetts in 1936, the artist’s creativity was sparked by visits to New York galleries, where he encountered the works of Jackson Pollock and Frank Kline. Highly regarded as a practitioner of minimalist forms, he received several honours over the course of his illustrious career, including being invited to give the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University in 1984, calling for a rejuvenation of abstract forms in art.
Many of his paintings originated out of a desire to render the canvas as an object, rather than a representative of an object, as expressed by him at the time, saying that one of his pieces was “a flat surface with paint on it-nothing more.” Stella’s sculpture work, too, distorts the coherent, geometric nature of his early paintings, and more recently, feels as though it challenges itself; imploding inwards towards a sense of relative orderliness, as compared to some of the more explosive forms he made in the past. Now 86, Stella seems abreast with the times, being a pioneering practitioner and early adopter, ‘Geometries’ is all set to be released in the Metaverse and will feature 22 unique 3D models based off of the artist’s works.
The virtual exhibition has been made by Arhead’s team, in partnership with ARSNL, and each piece on display has been meticulously adapted to Arhead’s metaverse platform. “Our version of Geometries is a new round in the work of the iconic artist. It is the quintessence of exploration of painting, physical space, and technologies of the future, which makes this series eternal” says Ivan Puzyrev, CIO of Arhead, which is a leading metaverse building platform that, as the press release states “…creates content, spaces, and events for organisations and practitioners aiming to push their brand or craft, along with their audience engagement at the edge of current technological possibilities. The platform unites creators and brands through innovative digital technologies and brings an international community of artists and architects to the metaverse. There are around 400 creators in Arhead’s community, across two tiers including Krista Kim, Solimán López, Nils Hansen, and now Frank Stella.” Arhead has implemented nearly 250 stunning international projects, including the AR-collaboration of Krista Kim and Vogue HK, virtual worlds for Museum of The Future, Balenciaga, Hermitage Museum and much more.” The Arhead ecosystem places the practitioners that form its community front and centre, growing through and alongside them.
Founded by Katarina Feder, Vice President of Artists Rights Society (ARS), ARSNL “bridges the fine art world and digital art space through collaboration and intellectual property protection. Rooted in legacy and born from technology, ARSNL’s mission is to help collectors and artists in the digital landscape.” Stella is aware that the market for his artworks is prohibitively expensive for young art collectors, and so the digital pieces that form Geometries will give a growing body of art lovers a chance to own a piece of the master’s oeuvre. However, as a deeper exploration of the exhibition will reveal, Stella is also making his way into the NFT space—the 3D models in Geometries have been licensed such that they may be modified by their buyers in the future.
Stella has been a vocal champion of artists’ rights for decades, and his collaboration, in conjunction with ARS, which is the preeminent copyright, licensing, and monitoring organisation for visual artists in the United States is a reflection of that. ARS was founded in 1987, and has over three decades of experience, along with a massive global collective creating exciting artist projects and collaborations, while also representing practitioners across disciplines in matters related to intellectual property. The organisation has done a great deal to ensure that artists are protected and remunerated for their work. ARS continually lobbies state and federal legislatures for stronger and more effective artists’ rights laws, including the ART Act, which would mandate resale royalties for visual artists, and the Artist-Museum Partnership Act. “This bill would allow creators to take a fair market deduction for works donated to museums and other public institutions,” states the press release.
Circling back to Stella, one must acknowledge that the artist’s move to the metaverse and to the world of NFTs is likely something rather jarring for his regular collectors—this is a relatively new arena to create, present and collect in, and the levels of faith people place in it, vary widely. While some believe it to be the single best thing that has happened to art, others have deemed its decline into obscurity a foregone conclusion. However, it is equally important to remember that the artist himself is no stranger to upsets—his work has spanned multiple mediums over his long career, and the shifts in Stella’s practice have garnered him a fair bit of criticism as well.
The sculpture artist, however, appears unfazed by it all, far too content to be creating, to feel particularly threatened by any negative discourse surrounding his pathbreaking craft. Perhaps the artist’s greatest work has been his continuous push for artists’ rights. Art journals are already taking note of his move with Geometries, and the endorsement of NFTs that it signifies. Indeed, the copyrights designed for the pieces will help adjust new, emergent visual art markets to the mechanics of resale that Stella has worked to achieve, for quite some time now. Digital practitioners, in particular, stand to benefit a great deal from improvements to the NFT space, which has, hitherto been marred by speculation and volatility. It remains to be seen where this growing legitimacy will take the space, but it is for certain that Stella’s contributions will go great distances in cementing his legacy.