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Joseph Stella was born in Muro Lucano, Italy, in 1877 and moved with his family to New York City in 1896. After some instruction on the English language, he enrolled at the New York School of Art under William Merritt Chase in 1898. Although his early work relates realistically to the slum-lives of immigrant workers in cities, especially New York and Pittsburgh, he quickly developed an early futurist style after a trip abroad to Italy and Paris, where he first encountered modern art.

Stella preferred cubism to fauvism, and the cubist work of the early 20th century weighed considerably on his style until his death. He returned to New York just in time to participate in the Armory Show of 1913, and following this, he produced his first recognizably futurist works. In 1919, he painted his famous Brooklyn Bridge, inarguably his best-known and -loved work- and for good reason. It is seen as one of the great futurist works, considered an "icon of the industrial age."

After the Bridge was completed, however, it seems that Stella moved on to other topics, and his work became more mystical and dark in tone. He began to see the buildings and bridges of the city as decorative, rather than iconic. He did, however, remain within the (admittedly hard to define) boundaries of futurism until his death in 1946.


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