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Although his recent works benignly decorate corporate offices worldwide, Frank Stella was once the enfant terrible of the New York art scene. After Clement Greenberg, the leading theorist of American modernism, declared that avant-garde painting should be about nothing but painting itself, the 23-year-old Stella took the dictum to its logical terminus, producing a series of huge canvases on which he painted repetitive configurations of black stripes. When they were first exhibited in 1959, the starkly beautiful paintings not only made contemporaneous abstract expressionist works look quaintly outdated, they also profoundly affected the young group of artists who would soon become minimalists and conceptualists. And, although Stella stopped making them long ago, the paintings’ revolutionary influence is still apparent in even the productions of today’s avant garde. Stella speaks about his 40-year career with New York City Director of Cultural Affairs Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel at 6:30 p.m. at the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s Hammer Auditorium, 17th & New York Ave. NW. $20. For reservations call (202) 639-1770. (Leonard Roberge)