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Frank Stella, American, born 1936

Made in United States, North and Central America


Oil stick, urethane enamel, fluorescent alkyd, and Magna on etched magnesium

10 feet 4 inches × 10 feet 8 inches × 19 inches (315 × 325.1 × 48.3 cm)

© Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Curatorial Department:
Contemporary Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with funds contributed by Muriel and Philip Berman and gift (by exchange) of the Woodward Foundation, 1982

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Additional information:
  • PublicationTwentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Hockenheim is named after the famous motor-racing track south of Frankfurt that hosts the annual German Grand Prix. Frank Stella's long-standing infatuation with racing cars first surfaced in his work in 1960, when he named an abstract painting after a Spanish Ferrari driver who was killed in a race three years earlier. In 1976 the German automobile company BMW commissioned Stella to design a paint job for one of its racing cars. The artist's passionate involvement in this project led to several trips to Europe to see the major races there. The competitive excitement and high degree of risk involved in Formula 1 motor racing inspired Stella, who recognized the aesthetic possibilities of the hairpin turns and twisting chicanes for his own metal reliefs. The artist began his "Circuit" series in 1980 and, over the next four years, produced a large number of elaborate, painted constructions named after international racetracks.

    Hockenheim plays with the question of how far one can extend a painting from the wall without turning it into sculpture. The magnesium support was constructed in a factory according to Stella's instructions, which called for extravagant, serpentine shapes such as arabesques, curlicues, and curvilinear forms resembling G clefs to be cut from sheets of metal. Welded and bolted together, these shapes create a dense jungle of interweaving, multilayered forms that tease the viewer s perception of depth through subtle interplays of positive and negative space. Once the completed structure arrived in his studio, Stella used a wide range of materials and techniques to enliven the factory-fresh surfaces with exuberant, neonlike hues. Stella's careening line and breakneck shifts in color evoke the vitality of highspeed racing cars and the sinuous turns of a racetrack. Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2000), p. 135.