When Frank Stella had a studio on the Lower East Side almost 60 years ago, he would hang out with his friend and New School faculty member, the painter Stephen Greene, at The New School. It was from these visits that the influential artist developed a respect and admiration for the progressive university in the heart of Greenwich Village.
So, when Stella found out that one of his pieces — a 45-foot painting, no less — would hang at The New School, he was thrilled.
“It’s really nice for it to be here,” Stella told a crowd gathered at the Tishman Auditorium, where the piece was installed last week. “There’s something special about it being downtown, and at The New School, which is so passionate about providing an education in the arts.”
Stella made his remarks during a reception for the installation of Deauville, a monumental work that represents the most significant single gift ever given to The New School Art Collection. The piece, which fits perfectly above the Tishman stage, energizes a vital space and raises the visibility of the university and its distinct artwork.
“It’s a true honor to have this work by one of the most important living American artists hang at The New School,” David Van Zandt, the university’s president, said. “In future years, when students, faculty, and staff take their seats in this auditorium, they’ll be able to see this monumental work. Already many people have commented that the painting looks like it belongs here, like it was made for the space.”
“We’re always looking for the right art in the right places and this kind of just fell in our laps,” Beth Rudin DeWoody, a New School trustee and member of The New School Art Committee, said. “When this was given to us, I thought, ‘This is 45 feet, where is it going to go?’ This is the perfect spot.”
A gift from New York’s Fisher family, Deauville grew out of the artist’s interest in horseracing and is named after a racetrack in Deauville, a French seaside resort on the coast of Normandy. It is one of only two monumental paintings from Stella’s Race Track Series (the other, Agua Caliente, is housed in the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art).
“This monumental painting is iconic Stella,” said Silvia Rocciolo and Eric Stark, curators of The New School Art Collection. “We worked with leadership to install the painting in the auditorium in the University Center where it will be prominently seen by The New School community and visitors. It is another landmark piece in the university’s art collection, equal in stature to site-specific works ranging from José Clemente Orozco’s 1931 murals to more recent commissions by Glenn Ligon, Alfredo Jaar and Agnes Denes.”