Frank Stella, an eminent figure in the world of modern art, passed away yesterday. Renowned for his influential contributions to the movements of minimalism and post-painterly abstraction, Stella’s career was marked by a bold redefinition of the traditional concepts of painting and sculpture.

Second Ever BMW Art Car

One of Stella’s most public contributions was his design for the BMW art car in 1976. The car, a BMW 3.0 CSL, was transformed into a moving canvas that displayed Stella’s signature style of vibrant geometric patterns. This project was part of a series by BMW involving artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol, where artists were invited to use cars as canvases for their work. Stella’s art car was unique as it was more subtly reflective of his style, featuring a black and white grid that resembled graph paper, symbolizing his ongoing interest in mathematics and the systemic. This car marked the world’s second BMW Art Car, coming at a time when the art world was still captivated by the pioneering first art car.

Raced In The 24 Hours of Le Mans

In 1976, the BMW 3.0 CSL raced during the Le Mans 24-hour race. Stella’s approach was both technical and artistic. This grid, emblematic of both Stella’s earlier and later works, served as a dynamic stage for the visual drama of the race. Despite its vibrant design, Stella’s Art Car did not clinch top positions at Le Mans. It later raced in a Manufacturer’s World Championship event in Dijon, France, driven by Ronnie Peterson, a close friend of Stella’s and an acclaimed racing driver who tragically died in 1978. In memory of Peterson, Stella crafted a poignant series titled “The Polar Coordinates for Ronnie Peterson.”

Born on May 12, 1936, in Malden, Massachusetts, Stella graduated from Princeton University in 1958, where he majored in history but also nurtured a profound interest in painting and art history. Frank Stella’s death marks the end of an era in the contemporary art world. He is remembered not only for his contributions to art history but also for his role as a teacher and mentor to younger generations of artists.