NICOLAS

DE STAËL

 

Born in Saint-Petersburg, Russia,1914-1955

Known for his use of thick impasto and his highly abstract landscape paintings, School of Paris painter de Staël was one of the most influential European artists of the post-war period. He also worked with textiles, collage, and illustration.

 

Born in St Petersbourg, de Staël and his sister were raised by wealthy family friends in Brussels after the early death of their parents. Upon entering the Brussels Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts and the Académie des Beaux-Arts de Saint-Gilles, Brussels in 1932-34, the artist travelled to Paris, Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Italy, settling in France in 1938. He studied briefly under Léger and in 1941 moved to Nice where he met Sonia and Robert Delaunay, and Jean Arp, who inspired his first abstract 'compositions'. Subsequently, he turned towards abstraction from his earlier representational work. 

de Staël had his first one-man exhibition at the Galerie l'Esquisse, Paris, in 1944, this is when he also met and befriended Georges Braque. He continued with his abstract work until 1951-52, after which he returned to figuration.

 

His numerous exhibitions brought him critical fame, and began to attract worldwide attention. In 1954, he exhibited at the Paul Rosenberg Gallery in New York. That same year, he left his family and retreated to Antibes, where he created still lifes and landscapes, retaining his thick impasto technique. 

 

At the height of his career, plagued by artistic doubts and depressions, de Staël took his own life by jumping from the balcony of his studio in Antibes. His work has since been the subject of retrospectives at several institutions, such as the Grand Palais and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Musée Picasso in Antibes, and The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.