Jasper's Split Star, 2021
On a brisk Saturday morning in November 2021, artist Frank Stella—twinkle in his eye—looked on as workers painstakingly hoisted and fastened the dozen geometric pieces of his 21-foot-tall sculpture, Jasper’s Split Star, as if solving a two-ton, three- dimensional aluminum jigsaw puzzle. The title is a reference to Stella’s 1962 painting, Jasper’s Dilemma, itself inspired by something his contemporary Jasper Johns once said: “The more I paint in color, the more I see everything in black and white.”
The sculpture had been on display on the lawn of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut—alongside a sister piece called Frank’s Wooden Star—and was back in Stella’s studio in upstate Rock Tavern, New York when he got a call from Larry Silverstein, who was looking for a new sculpture for the Silverstein Family Park at 7 World Trade Center to replace Jeff Koons’s recently departed Balloon Flower (Red). The 86-year-old Stella—which means “star” in Italian—was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama in 2009. His works have been shown in the world’s great modern-art museums, including MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, and the Tate. The sculpture and the Silverstein Family Park offer a gateway to the new World Trade Center in Downtown Manhattan.