The Epic Endeavor: Frank Stella’s Waves Series

Frank Stella- Waves Series- Moby-Dick- Zane Bennett Contemporary Art- Santa Fe New Mexico
Frank Stella by Christopher Felver, silver gelatin print

In 1986, Frank Stella embarked on an epic endeavor: adapting Herman Melville’s classic novel Moby-Dick into a body of work. He spent twelve years capturing the essence of the novel, resulting in four series with over 200 artworks that correspond with every twist and turn of the plot. The first series, The Waves, comprises thirteen vibrant, mixed-media prints that detail Captain Ahab’s obsessive quest. Behold four vibrant prints from the series, available individually or as a set. Each print is named for a chapter from the book, so we’ve provided chapter synopses below.

Frank Stella - The Waves Series - Ahab - Moby Dick - The Whale - Zane Bennett Gallery - Santa Fe

In Ahab, abstracted whale tails and a blood-red background
mark Ishmael’s first sighting of the doomed captain. 

Frank Stella
Ahab
serigraph, lithograph, linocut, hand coloring, and collage
Year: 1988

Frank Stella - Hark! - The Waves Series - Moby Dick - Zane Bennett Gallery - Santa Fe

Hark! captures the quiet reverence the seamen have for
their captain—and the sounds of a calm ocean. 

Frank Stella
Hark!
serigraph, lithograph, linocut, hand coloring, and collage
Year: 1988

Frank Stella - The Wave Series - A Squeeze of the Hand - Moby Dick - The Whale - Zane Bennett - Santa FeA Squeeze of the Hand offers a tour through the Pequod’s
“blubber-room,” hence the exuberant mish-mash of colors and forms.

Frank Stella
A Squeeze of the Hand
serigraph, lithograph, linocut, hand coloring, and collage
Year: 1988

Frank Stella - The Pacific - The Wave Series - Moby Dick - Zane Bennett Gallery - Santa FeThe Pacific, with its fragmented vision of the titular whale
tinged in red, charts the Pequod’s passage into tumultuous waters.

Frank Stella
The Pacific
serigraph, lithograph, linocut, hand coloring, and collage
Year: 1988