When members of The New School community take their seats at the University Center’s Tishman Auditorium this semester, their eyes will be drawn to a monumental work by one of the most influential artists of our time.
The piece — a 45-foot painting that stretches above the Tishman stage — was created by the renowned American artist Frank Stella. The most significant single gift ever given to The New School Art Collection, it energizes a vital space and raises the visibility of the university and its distinct artwork.
“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 the Josè Clemente Orozco, Martin Puryear/Van Valkenburgh, Kara Walker, and Glenn Ligon commissions.”
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).
Comprised of concentric bands of color that evoke movement and landscape, the shaped painting has an architectural presence that is complementary to the venue it which it’s housed. Deauville also reflects The New School’s focus on innovation and experimentation; pared down and purged of extraneous gesture, the work pushed beyond the language of abstract expressionism that was prevalent in New York during the 1950s.
“This significant work by one of the greatest living American artists serves as a striking symbol to the university’s commitment to artistic excellence and aesthetic experimentation,” said Tim Marshall, The New School’s provost. “The New School is the ideal home for this work, which will be seen and admired by members of the university community for years to come.”
Siting Deauville was accomplished through the collaborative effort of the President’s and Provost’s Offices, the Art Collection curators and the Art Advisory Group, and the offices of Facilities Management and Design and Construction. The installation process began with the assembly of the original latticed wooden stretcher on which the canvas was stretched. Next, a crew of workers attached cables to the stretcher and hoisted the painting up to the ceiling to rigging points engineered specifically for the work.
“The painting feels like it was made for the space,” Rocciolo says. “It’s fantastic how both the painting and the space are re-activated — the painting becomes animated by its new site and the site itself becomes animated by the painting. It’s an exciting, energetic relationship.”
Stark added, “It has gone from a singular object to a site-specific work.”
Deauville is the latest addition to The New School’s robust art collection. Formally established in 1960 with a grant from the Albert A. List Foundation, the collection includes thirteen site-specific commissions from the historically significant 1931 mural cycle by José Clemente Orozco, A Call for Revolution and Universal Brotherhood to Glenn Ligon’s 2015 neon frieze, Comrades and Lovers. Installed throughout the public and private spaces on campus, the collection provides students, faculty and staff with a unique opportunity to critically engage with works of art.
Says Rocciolo, “The University Art Collection is part of our cultural capital. It is here for all of us — to advance other forms of knowledge embedded in these artworks and broaden our worldview.”