Italian-born American modernist Joseph Stella (1877–1946) is primarily recognized for his dynamic Futurist-inspired paintings of New York, especially the Brooklyn Bridge and Coney Island. Lesser known, but equally as ambitious, is his work dedicated to the natural world, a theme that served as a lifelong inspiration. Throughout his career, Stella produced an extraordinary number of works—in many formats and in diverse media—that take nature as their subject. These lush and colorful works are filled with flowers, trees, birds, and fish—some of which he encountered on his travels across continents or during his visits to botanical gardens, while others are abstracted and fantastical. Through these pictures, he created a rich and variegated portrait of nature, a sanctuary for a painter in a modern world.
Joseph Stella: Visionary Nature is co-organized by the High and the Brandywine River Museum of Art and is the first major museum exhibition to exclusively examine Stella’s nature-based works. The exhibition features more than one hundred paintings and works on paper that reveal the complexity and spirituality that drove Stella’s nature-based works and the breadth of his artistic vision. Through expanded in-gallery didactics, including a graphic timeline of Stella’s career and a short film, the exhibition digs deeply into the context of the works, exploring their inspirations, meanings, and stylistic influences.