Tribute to a Racer
Frank Stella's 'Polar Co-Ordinates for Ronnie Peterson'
An unabashed fan of car racing, Frank Stella created a special series of prints to honor his friend, the Swedish race car driver Ronnie Peterson, who died in a racing accident at the 1978 Italian Grand Prix. Created in the immediate aftermath of Peterson's untimely death, the series is comprised of eight silkscreen and offset lithograph prints that echo the geometric composition of Stella's Flin-Flon and Saskatoon painting series from a decade earlier. In 1979, Stella's print series for Peterson inspired another fitting tribute to the racer: a hand-painted BMW for another friend of Stella's, racing driver Peter Gregg. A 1982 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, was also named for the eight works. MoMA's director of Prints & Illustrated Books Riva Castleman noted of the series "the tendency in a few of the prints to unbalance or distort the dominant symmetry."