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By-Products Plants

A work made of oil on canvas.

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Joseph Stella (American, born Italy, 1877–1946)

About this artwork

While studying art in Italy and France from 1909 to 1913, Joseph Stella was captivated by Italian Futurism, a movement that employed Cubism’s fragmented forms to express the mechanization and speed of modern life. After he returned to the United States, Stella used Futurism to convey the dynamism of American industry in paintings such as By-Products Plants, which depicts the factories that extract ammonia, tar, and light oils when coal is burned. Such mechanical processes fascinated Stella, and he later recalled, “opposite my studio was a huge factory … towering with the gloom of a prison. At night fires gave to innumerable windows menacing blazing looks of demons.” Stella invested his factory paintings with this sense of eerie mystery.


On View, Gallery 271


Arts of the Americas


Joseph Stella


By-Products Plants


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

c. 1923–1926


Oil on canvas


Signed lower right: Joseph Stella


61 × 61 cm (24 × 24 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Noah Goldowsky in memory of Esther Goldowsky

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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