The Whitney Taps Frank Stella for an Inaugural Retrospective

Frank Stella with his work "The Michael Kohlhaas Curtain." Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Now that the Whitney Museum of American Art has left its longtime digs on Madison Avenue for an all-new, terrace-laden building in Chelsea, its fall schedule seems likely to be read as a mission statement. What does it mean, for instance, that Frank Stella, 79, the champion of abstract art, has been tapped for the inaugural retrospective at the new building? Perhaps abstract painting is hot again, or perhaps the Whitney has entered a mature phase, celebrating not just the rise of art stars but the feat of staying artistically elevated over the years.

“It’s an accident,” Mr. Stella said recently, when asked about his show, which opens at the Whitney on Oct. 30 and was organized with the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. “I’m old. I’m not controversial anymore.”