Famous for his depictions of modernist icons such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Italian-born Joseph Stella immigrated to New York in 1896. There, he produced Cubo-Futurist compositions of the city that captured the tempo and dynamism of urban life. In later years, however, Stella returned to Italy and focused increasingly on religious themes. In The Virgin (1926) the Virgin Mary appears against a dense array of fruits and flowers — common symbols of fertility — with a view of the Bay of Naples in he background. Reinterpreting Italian Renaissance altarpieces through a brightly saturated palette and bold modeling of form, Stella’s Madonna embodies the early twentieth-century interest in region and spirituality.
Dr. Mayer-Hermann was a renowned throat specialist whose waiting room was filled with the most prominent singers and actresses of his day. Artist Otto Dix was among his patients. While Dix is best known for his unflinching depictions of prostitutes, disabled war veterans, and other traumatized subjects, here he depicts an established professional with wit and satire. In this portrait painted in 1926, the abundance of circular shapes that fill the canvas parodies the doctor’s round body and face — from the curves of his chubby hands and the round bags under his eyes to the reflector on his headband and the mirror above his head.
Dr. Mayer-Hermann by Otto Dix is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art on NYC, and is currently on view on the 5th Floor, in the Painting and Sculpture I Lobby.