Joseph Stella, Jazz Roots: Art Gallery

Jazz Roots: Painting the Jazz Scene


Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery,
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Battle of Lights, Coney Island, c.1913-14

Joseph Stella (1877-1946)

The Italian-born Joseph Stella immigrated to the United States in 1896. The following year, he began his formal art training at the New York School of Art. Here he was widely influenced by the Realist approach to art and his early work depicted New York through external features and human inhabitants.

Yet, following a trip to Europe in 1909, Stella's initial style was transformed by his exposure to Cubism and Futurism--artistic movements which emphasized emotion and multisensual images. After 1912, Stella sought to capture American modernity and urbanity through the intangible forms of sound. As in The Battle of Lights, Coney Island, Stella's later work created a visual representation of musical polyphony. Coney Island, then the emblem of modern American culture is rendered in The Battle of Lights to evoke the dynamism of caberets, dance halls, and vaudeville bands.

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