Posts Tagged ‘artists in Williamsburg’

An abstract painter’s kaleidoscopic Brooklyn

April 28, 2014

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.


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.”


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.”

A 1983 art show on the Williamsburg Bridge

October 25, 2012

Could this May 1983 ad be the first sign of the coming artist colonization and eventual gentrification of Williamsburg?

Published in the now-defunct downtown arts monthly East Village Eye, it promoted an outdoor sculpture exhibition set up on the Delancey Street side of the empty and decrepit Williamsburg Bridge.

98 Bowery, a website that chronicles the East Village/Lower East Side arts scene of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, has a writeup and photos of the Williamsburg Bridge Show, as it was known:

“The neglected promenade seemed like the perfect place for a large-scale sculpture show. For two years, the sculptors grappled with the strict requirements imposed by the city’s Department of Transportation, which administers the deteriorating bridge.”

“The opening coincided with the centennial celebration of the Brooklyn Bridge, a synchrony which attracted attention to the show. The works, however, also attracted vandals and thieves, and a number of sculptures disappeared before a week had passed.”

You might recognize at least one artist’s name: Tom Otterness. He’s the sculptor behind those whimsical brass figures and critters at the Eighth Avenue and 14th Street subway station.