Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stael, Nicolas de

Composition d'après
year unknown
acrylique sur toile
30 x 30 cm
location unknown

Nicolas de Staël (1914 - 1955) was a painter known for his use of a thick impasto and his highly abstract landscape painting.
He was considered a French painter of Russian birth, born in the family of a Russian Lieutenant General, Baron Vladimir Stael von Holstein. De Staël's family was forced  into exile in 1919 in Poland as a result of the Russian Revolution. In 1922, orphaned, he and his two sisters were sent to Brussels. He studied in Brussels, at the Académie de St Gilles and at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts.

His painting career spans roughly 15 years (from 1940) and produced more than a thousand paintings. His work shows the influence of Gustave Courbet, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso (especially Picasso in his Blue and Rose periods), Georges Braque, Fernand Léger and Chaim Soutine, as well as of the Dutch masters Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hercules Seghers. His work was quickly recognized within the post-war art world, and he became one of the most influential artists of the 1950s. However, he moved away from abstraction in his later paintings, seeking a more "French" lyrical style, returning to representation (seascapes, footballers, jazz musicians, seagulls) at the end of his life. His painting style is characterized by a thick impasto showing traces of the brush and the palette knife, and by a division of the canvas into numerous zones of color (especially blues, reds and whites). His most well-known late paintings of beaches and landscapes are dominated by the sky and effects of light.

By 1953, de Staël's depression led him to seek isolation in Antibes, in the south of France. He suffered from exhaustion, insomnia and depression. In the wake of a disappointing meeting with a disparaging art critic 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.