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Collections Browse Joseph Stella

Collections Browse Joseph Stella

Name
Joseph Stella
Nationality
American
Life Dates
1877–1946
Gender
Male
Holdings (1)
1 painting

Wikipedia About Joseph Stella

Joseph Stella (June 13, 1877 - November 5, 1946) was an Italian-born, American Futurist painter best known for his depictions of industrial America, especially his images of the Brooklyn Bridge. He is associated with the American Precisionism movement of the 1910s-1940s. Stella was born in Muro Lucano, Italy but came to New York City in 1896 to study medicine. However, he quickly abandoned his medical studies and turned instead to art, studying at the Art Students League of New York under William Merritt Chase. His first paintings were Rembrandtesque depictions of city slum life. A remarkable draftsman, he made drawings throughout the various phases of his career, beginning as an academic realist. From 1905 to 1909 he worked as an illustrator, publishing his realist drawings in magazines. In 1908, he was commissioned for a series on industrial Pittsburgh later published in The Pittsburgh Survey. Stella returned to visit Italy in 1909; it was this return to Europe, and his first contact with modernism, that would truly mold his distinctive personal style, notable for its sweeping and dynamic lines. He became associated with the Italian Futurists and began to incorporate Futurist principles into his art. Returning to New York in 1913, he painted Battle of Lights, Mardi Gras, Coney Island, which is one of the earliest American Futurist works (currently in the Sheldon Museum of Art). The New York Armory Show of 1913, in which he participated, provided him with greater impetus to experiment with modernist styles. In New York during the 1920s, Stella became fascinated with the geometric quality of the architecture of Lower Manhattan. In these works he assimilated the elements of Cubism and Futurism. In his best-known work, he shows his fascination with the sweeping lines of the Brooklyn Bridge, a motif he used continuously throughout his career. Stella’s depictions of the bridge feature the diagonal cables that sweep downward forcefully, providing directional energy. While these dynamic renderings suggest the excitement and motion of modern life, in Stella’s hands the image of the bridge also becomes a powerful icon of stability and solidarity. Among his other well-known paintings is New York Interpreted (1922), a five-paneled work patterned after a religious altarpiece, but depicting bridges and skyscrapers instead of saints. This piece reflects the belief, common at the time, that industry was displacing religion as the center of modern life. It is currently owned by the Newark Museum. In the 1930s, Stella worked on the Federal Art Project and later traveled to Europe, North Africa, and the West Indies, locations that inspired him to work in various modes. He moved from one style to the next, from realism to abstraction to surrealism. He executed abstract city themes, religious images, botanical and nature studies, erotic and steamy Caribbean landscapes, and colorful still-lifes of vegetables, fruits, and flowers. His strong draftsmanship is evident throughout the many kinds of images that he continued to make over the years. A famous Stella quote is: “I have seen the future and it is good. We will wipe away the religions of old and start anew.” Full Wikipedia Article