Frank Stella Agua Caliente From Race Track Series Screen Print
FRANK STELLA (B. 1936)
Agua Caliente, from Race Track Series
Screenprint in colors, on Gemini Rag Board, 1972,
Signed and dated in pencil.
Numbered 72/75 (there were also ten artist's proofs), published by Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles, with their blind stamps and ink stamp on the reverse.
With full margins,
Image: 16 ½ x 76 ½ in. (419 x 1943 mm.)
Sheet: 21 ½ x 81 ¼ in. (546 x 2064 mm.)
Excellent condition. Slight wave to paper. In Plexiglas frame. frame is scratched but has protected the artwork.
About the work:
Frank Stella is an aficionado of racing of all kinds and on multiple occasions has incorporated this passion into his work. Of the different racing related series he has created, one of the most widely recognized is the Racetrack Series. This series of three prints was inspired by famous horse race tracks in California and Mexico.
This week’s Work of the Week! WOW! from the Racetrack Series is Agua Caliente.
The Agua Caliente track is located in Baja California, Mexico, approximately 4 miles from the US border. The facility was built in 1929, at the height of Prohibition and start of the Great Depression. The racetrack was attached to a casino and hotel, a resort which was very popular among wealthy Americans, including the Hollywood elite since drinking and gambling was illegal in the US. In 1935, Mexican President Lazaro Cardenas outlawed gambling, which closed down the resort and casino, however the racetrack continued to operate for many years.
Agua Caliente was the site of several horse racing firsts, such as starting gates, safety helmets, and “pick-6” wagering. “Pick-6” wagers require bettors to pick the winning horse in 6 consecutive races, no easy task but, multiple horses can be selected for each race. The more horses selected, however, the more expensive the bet.
Legendary horses, Phar Lap and Seabiscuit competed and won at the track in 1932 and 1938 respectively, both regarded as symbols of hope during the Great Depression. Today, the racetrack is still in operation, but hosts daily greyhound races as opposed to horse races.
Stella’s minimalist approach depicts Agua Caliente with 3 boldly-colored ellipses representing a bird’s eye view of the track. Despite that the work is minimalist, it is created in a large scale, measuring 81 1/8 inches across, adding to the impact of the geometric beauty.
Frank Stella, an iconic figure of postwar American art, is considered the most influential painter of a generation that moved beyond Abstract Expressionism toward Minimalism. In his early work, Stella attempted to drain any external meaning or symbolism from painting, reducing his images to geometric form and eliminating illusionistic effects. His goal was to make paintings in which pictorial force came from materiality, not from symbolic meaning. He famously quipped, “What you see is what you see,” a statement that became the unofficial credo of Minimalist practice. In the 1980s and '90s, Stella turned away from Minimalism, adopting a more additive approach for a series of twisting, monumental, polychromatic metal wall reliefs and sculptures based on Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.