Our Art / Joseph Stella / Battle of Lights, Coney Island, Mardi Gras

Battle of Lights, Coney Island, Mardi Gras by Joseph Stella
Battle of Lights, Coney Island, Mardi Gras by Joseph Stella

Battle of Lights, Coney Island, Mardi Gras, 1913

Joseph Stella

A phantasmagoria of swirling shapes and colors represents Mardi Gras at the Coney Island amusement park. The artist wrote that Coney Island presented the “most intense arabesque … [of the] surging crowd and the revolving machines generating … violent, dangerous pleasures.” In this cacophonous work, you’ll find strings of lights, gyrating dancers, and the radiating steel beams of the Ferris wheel and roller coasters. Fragments of honky-tonk signs make reference to the resort’s popular attractions, such as Steeplechase Park and Feltman’s restaurant, where the hotdog was invented. At bottom center, the letters C-O-M allude to the commedia dell’arte, the European equivalent of Mardi Gras.

From the Playlist
Credit
Yale University Art Gallery
Get the Depict Frame
Display this piece - and hundreds more - at home with the Depict Frame, the world’s first museum-quality digital art canvas.