Nicolas De Staël

Nicolas de Staël (January 5, 1914 – March 16, 1955); French painter of Russian origin known for his use of a thick impasto and his highly abstract landscape painting. He also worked with collage, illustration and textiles.

Born into an aristocratic Russian family in St. Petersburg; the family was forced to emigrate to Poland in 1919 because of the Russian Revolution; both his father and stepmother died in Poland and the orphaned Nicolas de Staël was sent with his older sister Marina to Brussels to live with a Russian family (1922).

....De Staël's painting career spans roughly 15 years (from 1940) and produced more than a thousand paintings. His work shows the influence of Courbet, Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso (especially Picasso in his Blue and Rose periods), Georges Braque, Fernand Léger and Soutine, as well as of the Dutch masters Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hercules Seghers. During the 1940s and beginning in representation (especially landscapes, but also still lifes, and portraits), de Staël moved further and further toward abstraction. Evolving his own highly distinctive and abstract style, which bears comparison with the near-contemporary American Abstract Expressionist movement, and French Tachisme, but which he developed independently of them. Typically his paintings contained block-like slabs of color, emerging as if struggling against one another across the surface of the image. Accordingly, when a Rothko painting was paired with one by Nicolas de Staël in the show of young French and American painters, Rothko commented to William Seitz....

By 1953, de Staël's depression led him to seek isolation in the south of France (eventually in Antibes). He suffered from exhaustion, insomnia and depression. In the wake of a disappointing meeting with a disparaging art critic[who?] on March 16, 1955 he committed suicide. He leapt to his death from his eleventh story studio terrace, in Antibes. He was 41 years old. (
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First Collected by

Annemie Vandeput


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