“Joseph Stella” at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
April 22–October 9, 1994

Joseph Stella (1877–1946) has long occupied a secure place in the ranks of the first generation of American modernists. His period of residence in Paris in 1911–12 gave him firsthand access to the art and ideas of the European avant-garde in the halcyon years of its development, and his association with the artists and patrons of the New York Dada group—Marcel Duchamp, Walter and Louise Arensberg, et al.—placed him in the company of the American avant-garde as well. Above all, his celebrated paintings of the Brooklyn Bridge, produced in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, have long enjoyed an iconic status in the American art of this century.

Yet Stella’s has always been a difficult career to keep in focus, and not only because of his frequent shifts in style. The...

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