An abstract painter’s kaleidoscopic Brooklyn

Born in 1877 in Italy, Joseph Stella came to New York City to study medicine. Instead, he pursued art, earning notoriety in the teens for his Futurist works that show the icons of the modern city in fantastical, kaleidoscopic colors.

Frankstellalunapark

In 1913, Stella turned his eye toward Coney Island. Above is his rendering of Luna Park; below, “Battle of Lights, Coney Island.” Both were painted in 1913.

His style isn’t to everyone’s taste, but his increasingly geometric and abstract work depicts an energetic, industrialized 20th century city.

FrankstellabattleoflightsThis view of the Brooklyn Bridge, below, dates to 1920. “Stella’s depictions of the Brooklyn Bridge feature the diagonal cables that sweep downward forcefully, providing directional energy,” according to the Phillips Collection.

“While these dynamic renderings of the Bridge 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.”

Frankstellabrooklynbridge

Moving to Brooklyn in 1917, he found the borough freeing and inspiring.

“Brooklyn gave me a sense of liberation,'” Stella explained. ‘The vast view of her sky in opposition to the narrow one of New York was a relief—and at night, in her solitude, I used to find, intact, the green freedom of my own self.”

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3 Responses to “An abstract painter’s kaleidoscopic Brooklyn”

  1. eddygregory Says:

    These are just some beautiful images that capture the soul of Coney Island.

  2. Rich T Says:

    Look up Stella in Google Images- that guy was super talented and very versatile. Thanks for the heads up- I’d never heard of him.

  3. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    A lot of people confuse him with Frank Stella, but he’s very different.

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