Jun 30, 2022 - Sale 2611

Sale 2611 - Lot 208

Estimate: $ 5,000 - $ 8,000
Mountain Landscape.

Oil on canvas, circa 1930. 220x610 mm; 8 3/4x24 3/4 inches. With the artist's estate ink stamp, twice lower right recto, twice verso.

Provenance: Estate of the artist, New York; private collection, Chicago.

Stella (1877-1946) was born to a middle-class family in Muro Lucano, Italy. He moved to New York in 1896 to study medicine, but he quickly eschewed his medical ambitions when he discovered his passion for art, enrolling at the Art Students League and studying at the New York School of Art under William Merritt Chase (1849-1916). Stella worked as an illustrator from 1905 to 1908 and was also active in the Federal Art Project during the 1930s, however it is his avant-garde works for which he is today best known, including colorful, fanciful floral studies, like the current work, ethereal landscapes, and modernist city depictions. His Futurist oil painting Battle of Lights, Coney Island, Mardi Gras, 1913, was exhibited in the 1913 Armory Show and caused a sensation. Collector and art educator Katherine Dreier included Stella among those artists whose work she sought to promote under the auspices of her Société Anonyme, New York's first museum dedicated exclusively to advanced contemporary art, which opened its doors in 1920 (she acquired Battle of Lights, Coney Island, Mardi Gras and it is now in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven). Like John Marin, Stella became fascinated with the geometric quality of the architecture of Lower Manhattan. During the 1920s he also began to make collages consisting of scraps of discarded paper, wrappers (some with the commercial logo or label still visible), and other bits of urban debris. Stella's works from the 1920s onward, however, were problematic for the cultivation of a sustained career. Once he had ceased painting in a Futurist or quasi-Cubist mode and had finished with his period of Precisionist factory images (circa 1920), he was not aligned with any particular movement. Even his retrospective at the Newark Museum, New Jersey in 1939 failed to reestablish him and his work was underappreciated at mid-century prior to being prized again in recent decades.