Joseph Stella (1880-1946)
Still Life, c. 1911
Oil on canvas, 23 ¼ x 28 ¼ in. (59.2 x 71.6 cm)
Private Collection

Inspired by Paris
Stella was initially so overcome by the avant-garde art he saw in Paris in 1911-1912 that he was unable to work. [1] When he was ready to paint, he completed a series of Post-Impressionist still lifes—this canvas is a prime example. It illustrates the ways in which Stella experimented with high-keyed color and textured surfaces while retaining the illusion of three-dimensional space and the realistic depiction of objects.

An artist in transition
This work’s Fauvist palette and Cézanne-inspired composition reflect a major shift away from Stella’s early Old Master style, but not the full leap into modernism that would inspire his iconic Futurist views of the Brooklyn Bridge, Coney Island, and other New York locales.

To the Armory Show
In January 1913, just after his return to New York from Paris, Stella submitted five works to the Armory Show’s Domestic Committee for possible inclusion in the February exhibition; they selected this one, and it hung in Gallery E with American works by Charles Sheeler, Julian Alden Weir, Abraham Walkowitz, and Armory Show co-organizers Walt Kuhn and Arthur B. Davies. [2]

[1] Barbara Haskell, Joseph Stella (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1994), 34 , 191, n. 65.

[2] A different painting by Stella, Landscape, was sent to the exhibition’s Chicago venue.

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