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Brooklyn Bridge

Joseph Stella

Brooklyn Bridge

Joseph Stella
  • Date: 1920
  • Style: Futurism
  • Series: Brooklyn Bridge
  • Genre: cityscape
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In the Brooklyn Bridge, Stella found a subject that impressed him, he said, “as the shrine containing all the efforts of the new civilization of America.” Brooklyn Bridge, his signature image, addressed the two aesthetic currents of his time —representation and abstraction —to suggest the deeper significance of this modern architectural icon. Stella photographed its various components —the maze of wires and cables, the granite piers and Gothic arches, the pedestrian walkway and subway tunnels, the thrilling prospect of Manhattan skyscrapers — as an abstract pattern of line, form, and color that evokes an idea of the bridge rather than faithfully describing it. Yet, as one critic observed, Stella’s interpretation seemed “more real, more true than a literal transcription of the bridge could be.” A “literal transcription” would have represented only its appearance, the impression it left upon Stella’s retina. A Futurist rendition could also account for more subjective impressions, the physical and psychological sensations it produced on the artist.

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