|Midnight North & Stella Blue's Band|| Capitol Theatre - Port Chester
Port Chester, NY
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Giuseppe Michele Stella was an Italian-born American Futurist painter. He was born in June 13, 1877 in Muro Lucano, a mountain village close to Naples and died in New York in November 5, 1946.
At the age of 18, he arrived at Ellis Island and assimilated the English version of his name, Joseph Stella. He was best-known for his depictions of industrial America, his cubist and futurist inspired paintings and collagist of Italian birth.
His older brother, Antonio Stella, had immigrated to New York years earlier, and was a successful physician who hoped his younger brother would follow in his footsteps. At the age of 19, He immigrated to the United States of America on March 1, 1896, under the premise he would study medicine and pharmacology. But Stellas heart was set on art, and therefore he did not devote himself to other disciplines.
In 1897 he began to paint and enrolled as a full-time student at the Art Students League and then at the New York School of Art, he was a student of artist William Merritt Chase and was awarded a tuition scholarship for his second year. Under the influence of Chases lectures, Stella began to admire the works of Dutch, German and Flemish masters that were on view at the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Stellas earliest painting emulates the manner of Chase, who admired Diego Vel?zquez, ?douard Manet, and Frans Hals and interpreted American subjects with breadth of handling and richness of palette.
Stella made several drawings of immigrants and miners for the magazines Outlook and Survey. These works strikingly expressed the vibrancy and dynamism of life in New York City. The best known of this group is The Bridge, from the series New York Interpreted.
He later turned to more mystical subjects, in paintings notable for their strong color and incisive realism. The Lower East Side subject-matter of Stellas early work was similar to that of his contemporaries of the New York Ashcan school.
In place of their dark-toned Impressionism, however, Stellas early style was academic in the manner of late 19th-century Italian painting. His first important commission was to depict the industrial workers in Pittsburgh for Survey, a social reform journal.
Stellas first view of the new land was the overpowering vertical skyline of New York City. Stella quickly became fascinated with the city. This is evident in the content of his paintings, which deal with New York. For him New York was the city of Poe and Whitman, whom Stella was very fond of. He had read Whitman in Italian before even setting foot in Whitmans native New York. Stellas admiration for Whitman would play an integral role in some of his most famous paintings.
Whitman was already buried in Camden, New Jersey, by the time Stella entered America. Stella was not a contemporary of Whitman, and had no personal or professional relationship with the poet. His relationship to Walt is similar to Allen Ginsberg or Lawrence Ferlinghetti that is, Stella drew inspiration from Whitmans poetry and put it into his art. Stellas debt to Whitman was immense though they never met. To Stella, Whitmans city was a thing of awe.
Stella did a set of drawings for Outlook magazine called Americans in the Rough which illustrate Whitmans ideal of democracy and his desire to depict every facet of American life. The sketches that compose this series are: A Russian Jew, A German, Italians, Irish Types, A Native of Poland, and The Gateway.
Like Whitman, Stella wanted to portray the human life undisguised and naked. He prowled the streets, sketch pad and pencil in hand; alert to catch the pose of a moment, the detail of a costume or manner that told the story of a life.
He made a name for himself in the early 1900s as a Social Realist illustrator. In 1903, artist Robert Henri became an instructor at the New York School of art. Once hearing Henris belief that no subject was too mundane for art, the young Stella soon turned to illustrating subjects of New Yorks immigrant population to which he, himself, belonged.
In 1905, Stellas drawings of immigrants were included in the popular social reform weekly The Outlook. Soon after, Stella became involved in the immigration issues that were sweeping the nation.
Arguing for the equal treatment of fellow immigrants, he completed commissions for more social reform weeklies, such as the widely distributed Charities and The Commons. By 1910 Stella was back in Europe. He spent about a year in Italy and then went to Paris, where he met Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and a number of the Italian futurists, including Umberto Boccioni, Carlo Carr?, and Gino Severini.
Stellas enthusiasm for their art was not immediately translated into his own work, but after he returned to the United States late in 1912 he began his first large futurist painting, Battle of Lights, Coney Island.
In this picture, forms are fractured and faceted to form a phantasmagoria of fragmented amusement-park architecture, disembodied by light and bright colors. It owes much to Severini in its conception. When the painting was exhibited in New York City, knowing art patrons admired it, but the general reception was negative.
Stella refined and applied his futurist approach to the American industrial scene, glorifying it by lending to it a precisionist character not unlike that of Charles Sheeler and Niles Spencer.
In 1920 Stella executed his first Brooklyn Bridge painting. From 1927 to 1934, he was in Rome and Paris, and in 1940 traveled to the West Indies. In 1934, Stella settled in the Bronx with his wife Mary French Stella. Over the next decade, his health deteriorated rapidly, and in turn, his reputation as a prolific painter suffered.
At the age of 60, he developed heart disease, and was eventually confined to his bed in 1942. Despite numerous near-fatal circumstances, Stellas dance with death ended with a heart attack in 1946.
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