American, born Italy
1877, Muro Lucano, Italy
1946, New York, New York
In 1896, Joseph (born Giuseppe) Stella emigrated to the U.S. to pursue a medical career. He soon changed course, however, and began illustrating immigrant life in New York's slums. These works were essentially of the nineteenth century in both style and social outlook.
Between 1909 and 1912, Stella traveled in Italy and France and discovered the formal and thematic innovations of the European avant-garde. His new work glorified the industrial prowess of the U.S. Foremost among his subjects was the Brooklyn Bridge, rendered as a constellation of lines dramatically receding in space. Many of his pictures derive their compositions from Renaissance altarpieces, but substitute modern architecture for sacred figures. This choice reflects Stella's typically modernist belief that in the future technology would replace the old religions.
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