Friday, August 15, 2014

Joseph Stella, Nativity

Joseph Stella, Nativity, 1920

Stella (1877-1946) is mostly known for his stylized depictions of urban and industrial America.  Some major characteristics of these paintings are the geometric forms and repeated patterns of architecture and the bold colors of the cityscape. 1920's Nativity is instead a stylized nature scene, depicting a forest with a cloud and what might be a waterfall.  Stella painted several other nature scenes, but Nativity in particular has strong continuity with his urban work.  This painting clearly owes much to Stella's experience with architecture.  This presentation of a forest looks more like a cityscape than a landscape.  The blue and yellow tower at the center stands out against the pale, swirling valley behind it but also blends seamlessly with the landscape, reinforcing the unity of man and nature that Stella subtly asserts.  This painting reminds me of Medieval tapestries and I love the understated beauty that is portrayed.

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