JOSEPH STELLA (American, 1877-1946)
    Pointillist Abstraction (Flowers), circa 1913-14
    Oil on canvas
    10-3/4 inches (27.3 cm) diameter
    Signed lower center: J. Stella
    Signed verso: Joseph Stella


    The artist;
    Sergio Stella, the artist's nephew, acquired from the above;
    Rabin & Krueger Gallery, Newark, New Jersey;
    Herbert A. Goldstone, New York, acquired from the above;
    ACA Galleries, New York;
    Acquired by the present owner from the above, September 1996.

    Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York, "The Herbert A. Goldstone Collection of American Art," June 15-September 12, 1965;
    El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, "Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection," September 8, 2013-January 5, 2014, no. 34.

    Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Herbert A. Goldstone Collection of American Art, exhibition catalogue, Brooklyn, New York, 1965, p. 97, no. 93, illustrated;
    I. Jaffe, Joseph Stella, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1970, p. 196, no. 34, illustrated;
    P.S. Cable, Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection, exhibition catalogue, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, 2013, pp. 97-99, no. 34, illustrated.

    In 1913 and 1914, as a direct reaction to New York's Armory Show, Joseph Stella created a series of Pointillist, Futurist paintings in the tondo format that reflect and pay homage to the Modernist works he saw at the 1912 Italian Futurist show in Paris. Pointillist Abstraction (Flowers) is among the few known examples from this revolutionary series.

    Born in Muro Lucano, Italy, a mountain village not far from Naples, Stella immigrated to America in 1896 at the age of eighteen. Arriving in New York, he enrolled at the Art Students League in 1897. Stella objected to the rule forbidding the painting of flowers, an indication of his lifelong devotion to flower painting. He also studied under William Merritt Chase in the New York School of Art and at Shinnecock Hills, Long Island, in 1901-1902, displaying the bravura brushwork and dark Impressionist influence of Chase.

    Stella went abroad in 1909 at the age of thirty-two, longing for his native land. He returned to Italy, traveling to Venice, Florence and Rome. He took up the glazing technique of the old Venetian masters to achieve warmth, transparency, and depth of color in his paintings. One of Stella's paintings was shown in the International Exhibition in Rome in 1910 and was acquired by the city of Rome.

    The influence of the French modernists awakened his dormant individuality. His friendship with the Futurist Antonio Mancini also played a role in his new style. At the urging of the artist and critic Walter Pach, Stella made a trip to Paris, where he met Gertrude and Leo Stein and saw the work of Henri Matisse and the other leading Fauves, spurring him to paint with alluring, vivid colors.

    Stella effected a quick transition from traditionality to the abstract idiom. At the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in 1912, he saw the works of his countrymen Carlo Carra, Umberto Boccioni and Gino Severini. Primed with these influences, Stella returned to New York in late 1912, in time to enter three still lifes in the Armory Show held in February of 1913: Battle of Lights (fig. 1), Coney Island, and Mardi Gras. These works were met with critical acclaim, propelling the artist into the vanguard of modernism.

    Stella's preference for structural composition is obvious in works such as Pointillist Abstraction (Flowers), where he fuses high-key color with broad, broken strokes. This vibrant tondo merges Orphic circle, color and light with Futurist movement and technique, while at the same time speaks to the artist's consistent love of nature. Painted the same year as Battle of Lights, Pointillist Abstraction (Flowers), encapsulates Stella's mastery of his unique Pointillist-Futurist painting style.

    Condition Report*:

    Unlined canvas; light surface grime along extreme edges; there does not appear to be inpainting under UV exam. Framed Dimensions 16.875 X 16.875 Inches

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    November, 2014
    17th Monday
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