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Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Stella’

Busy morning here in the studio but I wanted to replay a post from over eight years ago about a painter whose work always dazzles me, Joseph Stella. I’ve added a few images from the original post as well as a video that shows the wider range of his work over his lifespan. Just plain great work…

When I see the paintings of Joseph Stella, particularly his modernist work, I am immediately engaged. They seem dense and complex, almost manic in their compositional content, yet the color and symmetry have an effect that I find calming.  I often wonder how Stella viewed this work, what he felt from it. Not in an artspeak sense. Not academic jargon. Just how it made him feel.

Stella (1877-1946) was an Italian immigrant to this country who has often been linked with several movements- modernism, futurism, and precisionism among them.  There is a contradiction in this in that everything I find about him points to someone with an outsider’s mentality, someone who never felt himself a part of any group  and with an “antipathy for authority” as it has been described, with which I strongly identify.  Joseph Stella Brooklyn Bridge

Maybe that’s what I see in the work.  I don’t know. I do know that I am drawn to the boldness and beauty of it. The strength of the lines. The depth of the colors. The sheer visceral bite of the  image that when taken in as a whole seems to engulf you. Gorgeous stuff. Work that makes me feel smaller, even tiny, for a moment yet inspires me to want to move my own work further ahead. To grow and expand.

Maybe that’s how I classify other’s work in my head- by how much they make me want to do better, by the way their work’s impact becomes an endpoint for me, a goal that I hope to achieve.

The work of Joseph Stella is definitely such an endpoint. Now I must work…
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joseph stella old brooklyn bridge

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2016 Smithsonian Photo Contest Winner- The China Red- Jian Wang

2016 Smithsonian Photo Contest Winner- The China Red- Jian Wang

I came across the photo above this morning which is titled The China Red.  It was shot by photographer Jian Wang at Olympic Forest Park in Beijing, China and is the winning image in the Mobile Category of the Smithsonian’s 13th Annual Photo Contest.  I spent about five minutes just staring at it, transfixed by the pattern of the shadows and colors.  Just a great image.

The color and forms incorporated in the photo reminded me of some of the work from the Precisionist painters such as DeMuth and Sheeler.  I thought I would share the following post from back in 2009 about Demuth:

demuth-number-5I’ve been a fan of Charles Demuth since the first time I saw his work.  He was considered a part of the Precisionist movement of the 20’s, along with painters such as Charles Sheeler and Joseph Stella among many others, with his paintings of  buildings and poster-like graphics such as this painting, I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold.  He was also one of the prominent watercolorists of his time and while they are beautiful and deserve praise in their own right, it’s his buildings that draw me in.

Demuth’s work has a tight graphic quality but still feels painterly to me.  There’s still the feel of the artist’s hand in his work which to me is a great quality.  There are photorealist painters out there whose craftsmanship I can really admire but who are so precise that they lose thatdemuth-my-egypt feel of having the artist’s hand in the work.  I like seeing the imperfection of the artist.  The first time I saw one of the Ocean Park paintings from artist Richard Diebenkorn, it wasn’t the composition or color that excited me.  It was the sight of several bristles from his brush embedded in the surface.  To me, that was a thrill, seeing  a part of the process.  The imperfect hand of the artist.  I get that feeling from Demuth.

He also had a great sense of color and the harmony and interplay of colors.  His colors are often soft yet strong, a result of his work with watercolors.  His whites are never fully white and there are subtle shades everywhere, all contributing to the overall feel of the piece.  His work always seems to achieve that sense of rightness I often mention.

His works, especially his paintings of buildings, have a very signature look, marked by a repeated viewpoint demuth-after-all where he views the buildings above him.  His paintings are usually fragments of the building’s upper reaches.  There’s a sense of formality in this view, almost reverence.  I don’t really know if he was merely entranced by the forms of industrial buildings or if he was making social commentary.

Whatever the case, do yourself a favor and take a look at the work of Charles Demuth.  It’s plain and simple good stuff…

Buildings, Lancaster 1930demuth-from-the-garden-of-the-chateau

demuth_charles_aucassiu_and_nicolette_1921

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Joseph Stella Flowers, ItalyWhen I see the paintings of Joseph Stella, particularly his modernist work, I am immediately engaged.  They seem dense and complex, almost manic in their compositional content, yet the color and symmetry have an effect that I find calming.  I often wonder how Stella viewed this work, what he felt from it.  Not in an artspeak sense.  Not academic jargon.  Just how it made him feel.

Stella (1877-1946) was an Italian immigrant to this country who has often been linked with several movements- modenism, futurism, and the precisionism among them.  There is a contradiction in this in that everything I find about him points to someone with an outsider’s mentality, someone who never felt himself a part of any group  and with an “antipathy for authority” with which I identify.  Joseph Stella Brooklyn Bridge

Maybe that’s what I see in the work.  I don’t know.  I do know that I am drawn to the boldness and beauty of it.  The strength of the lines.  The depth of the colors.  The sheer visceral bite of the  image that when taken in as a whole seems to engulf you.  Gorgeous stuff.  Work that makes me feel smaller, even tiny,  for a moment yet inspires me to want to move my own work further ahead.  To grow and expand.

Maybe that’s how I classify other’s work in my head- by how much they make me want to do better, by the way their work’s impact becomes an endpoint for me, a goal that I hope to achieve.

The work of Joseph Stella is definitely such an endpoint.  Now I must work…

joseph stella fountainjoseph stella old brooklyn bridgejoseoh stella

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I Saw the Figure 5 in GoldI’ve been a fan of Charles Demuth since the first time I saw his work.  He was considered a part of the Precisionist movement of the 20’s, along with painters such as Charles Sheeler and Joseph Stella among many others, with his paintings of  buildings and poster-like graphics such as this painting, I Saw the Figure 5 in Gold.  He was also one of the prominent watercolorists of his time and while they are beautiful and deserve praise in their own right, it’s his buildings that draw me in.

Demuth’s work has a tight graphic quality but still feels painterly to me.  There’s still the feel of the artist’s hand in his work which to me is a great quality.  There are photorealist painters out there whose craftsmanship I can really admire but who are so precise that they lose thatdemuth-my-egypt feel of having the artist’s hand in the work.  I like seeing the imperfection of the artist.  The first time I saw one of the Ocean Park paintings from artist Richard Diebenkorn, it wasn’t the composition or color that excited me.  It was the sight of several bristles from his brush embedded in the surface.  To me, that was a thrill, seeing  a part of the process.  The imperfect hand of the artist.  I get that feeling from Demuth.

He also had a great sense of color and the harmony and interplay of colors.  His colors are often soft yet strong, a result of his work with watercolors.  His whites are never fully white and there are subtle shades everywhere, all contributing to the overall feel of the piece.  His work always seems to achieve that sense of rightness I often mention.Buildings, Lancaster 1930

His works, especially his paintings of buildings, have a very signature look, marked by a repeated viewpoint  where he views the buildings above him.  His paintings are usually fragments of the building’s upper reaches.  There’s a sense of formality in this view, almost reverence.  I don’t really know if he was merely entranced by the forms of industrial buildings or if he was making social commentary.

Whatever the case, do yourself a favor and take a look at the work of Charles Demuth.  It’s plain and simple good stuff…

demuth-from-the-garden-of-the-chateaudemuth-after-all

demuth_charles_aucassiu_and_nicolette_1921

Read Full Post »

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