Sunday, September 6, 2009

Stella and the Brooklyn Bridge

 A clever pun from the SF MOMA BLog: Reports are coming in that the Bay Bridge might stay closed due to a crack. Since this news is less than stellar we wanted to share something bridge related that is, shall we say, very STELLA. Come see the work in person by taking BART (Montgomery Station). 

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.

Read more about Joseph Stella at the SF MOMA web site.


Zoomie said...

I revisited this painting this past weekend with some out of town visitors and loved it all over again. The reproduction isn't very color-true - it's a marvelous painting!

Also caught the O'Keefe/Adams show, which we all felt was underwhelming and very poorly hung. They saved the best of O'Keefe to hide in the middle of the show, pairing her least interesting work with Adams'most iconic images at the beginning, so one was tempted to focus almost exclusively on his work. That would have been a shame, as hers is marvelous in the most subtle of her images. We were glad we went but felt they should have started out with equal blockbuster images - almost all viewers were clustered around the photos, despite the color calling to them from the O'Keefes. Oh, well, easier viewing for us!

namastenancy said...

I had a dickens of a time finding a decent image of the Stella piece; this one is enlarged and cropped from another site because the one up at the SFMOMA site is no bigger than a thumbnail-but I'm glad that you could see the original.
I couldn't agree with you more on how the Adams/O'Keefe show was hung. I finally just ignored Adams' work and concentrated on O'Keefe's but felt that they really botched an opportunity to show her for the brilliant painter that she really was.