December 9, 2018 14:00 EST

American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists

 
  Lot 80
 
Lot 80 - JOSEPH STELLA  (AMERICAN 1877–1946)

80

JOSEPH STELLA (AMERICAN 1877–1946)
"SUNFLOWER"

Gouache on wove paper
Sheet size: 27 3/4 x 30 1/2 in. (70.5 x 77.5cm)
Executed circa 1929.

Provenance: The Estate of the Artist's nephew.
By descent in the family.
Richard York Gallery, New York, New York.
Menconi + Schoelkopf Fine Art LLC, New York, New York.
Private Collection, New Jersey.
EXHIBITED:
John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, California, n.d.
"Walter Anderson & His Peers," Vanderwoude Tananbaum Gallery, New York, New York, September 14-October 29, 1988.
"Joseph Stella's Nature," Richard York Gallery, New York, New York, March 31-May 27, 1994.
"Joseph Stella: Flora," Eaton Fine Art Inc., West Palm Beach, Florida, January 9-March 6, 1998.
"American on Paper: Perspectives on People and Places by American Masters," James Graham & Sons, New York, New York, November 2-December 2, 2000.
NOTE:
After a few months spent at the Art Students League in the fall of 1898, Stella decided to leave because the school would not allow him to draw flowers, his favorite subject matter. Consequently, the artist enrolled in the New York Art School (now Parsons School of Design), where William Merritt Chase became his teacher between 1899 and 1902. Chase confirmed Stella's anti-conformist attitudes, and most importantly considered Stella's floral still lifes a worthy subject, which he himself painted enthusiastically.
While in New York, Italian-born Stella often missed his native country, with its sunny climate and rich vegetation. In 1909, a homesick Stella decided to return to Italy, where he studied the blooms of plants. Their bright colors and year-round availability enabled the artist to use them as ever-lasting subjects. Upon his return to New York three years later, Stella desperately searched for this sacred contact with nature in the harsh environment of the city. He eventually regained energy through "the luxuriant garden of the Bronx," [New York Botanical Garden] which provided him with strong visual resources, and enabled him to retain his connection to his Neapolitan roots.
The brief period from 1919-1920 is one of incredible experiment in Stella's career, especially through his still life paintings. Stylistically speaking, Stella's still lifes are quite different from his other body of work of the same period. Largely done on paper, sometimes in wax crayon, sometimes in gouache, they are brilliant in color and incredibly realistic in detail. At first sight, they appear similar to 18th century botanical studies. Yet, Stella goes beyond this historical reference, to dive into a realm of fantasy, which lingers on the surrealist.
With its vibrant, even hot, coloration and bold contours of form, "Sunflower" appears to writhe like an exotic snake. According to John Baur, the present work "has something of the flat, asymmetrical design of an Arthur Dove (…) for the ragged, concentric circles of the flower's head seem to take on symbolic significance, suggesting an expanding, strangely warped sun." Violent contrasts of texture on the paper add to the dramatic effect of the sunflower, which Stella shows fantastically erupting against the solid blue background. The large size of the gouache also enhances its overall power, as the viewer is immediately swept into the artist's colorful universe. To an extent, with its free distortions and arbitrary, almost strident colors, "Sunflower" truly marks Stella's closest approach to Expressionism.

Sold for $35,000
Estimated at $25,000 - $40,000


 

Gouache on wove paper
Sheet size: 27 3/4 x 30 1/2 in. (70.5 x 77.5cm)
Executed circa 1929.

Provenance: The Estate of the Artist's nephew.
By descent in the family.
Richard York Gallery, New York, New York.
Menconi + Schoelkopf Fine Art LLC, New York, New York.
Private Collection, New Jersey.
EXHIBITED:
John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, California, n.d.
"Walter Anderson & His Peers," Vanderwoude Tananbaum Gallery, New York, New York, September 14-October 29, 1988.
"Joseph Stella's Nature," Richard York Gallery, New York, New York, March 31-May 27, 1994.
"Joseph Stella: Flora," Eaton Fine Art Inc., West Palm Beach, Florida, January 9-March 6, 1998.
"American on Paper: Perspectives on People and Places by American Masters," James Graham & Sons, New York, New York, November 2-December 2, 2000.
NOTE:
After a few months spent at the Art Students League in the fall of 1898, Stella decided to leave because the school would not allow him to draw flowers, his favorite subject matter. Consequently, the artist enrolled in the New York Art School (now Parsons School of Design), where William Merritt Chase became his teacher between 1899 and 1902. Chase confirmed Stella's anti-conformist attitudes, and most importantly considered Stella's floral still lifes a worthy subject, which he himself painted enthusiastically.
While in New York, Italian-born Stella often missed his native country, with its sunny climate and rich vegetation. In 1909, a homesick Stella decided to return to Italy, where he studied the blooms of plants. Their bright colors and year-round availability enabled the artist to use them as ever-lasting subjects. Upon his return to New York three years later, Stella desperately searched for this sacred contact with nature in the harsh environment of the city. He eventually regained energy through "the luxuriant garden of the Bronx," [New York Botanical Garden] which provided him with strong visual resources, and enabled him to retain his connection to his Neapolitan roots.
The brief period from 1919-1920 is one of incredible experiment in Stella's career, especially through his still life paintings. Stylistically speaking, Stella's still lifes are quite different from his other body of work of the same period. Largely done on paper, sometimes in wax crayon, sometimes in gouache, they are brilliant in color and incredibly realistic in detail. At first sight, they appear similar to 18th century botanical studies. Yet, Stella goes beyond this historical reference, to dive into a realm of fantasy, which lingers on the surrealist.
With its vibrant, even hot, coloration and bold contours of form, "Sunflower" appears to writhe like an exotic snake. According to John Baur, the present work "has something of the flat, asymmetrical design of an Arthur Dove (…) for the ragged, concentric circles of the flower's head seem to take on symbolic significance, suggesting an expanding, strangely warped sun." Violent contrasts of texture on the paper add to the dramatic effect of the sunflower, which Stella shows fantastically erupting against the solid blue background. The large size of the gouache also enhances its overall power, as the viewer is immediately swept into the artist's colorful universe. To an extent, with its free distortions and arbitrary, almost strident colors, "Sunflower" truly marks Stella's closest approach to Expressionism.

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