NEW 006

012
Nicolas de STAËL,1914 - 1955

Figure

1945

charcoal on paper

50.3 × 31.2 cm

signed and dated

framed

ESTIMATE :
$13,300 - $20,000
CONDITION

Good condition.
Signed and dated on the lower left.
There are a few peeling marks on the upper right corner and a slight dirt mark in the center right.

DESCRIPTION

The Russian-born French Painter Nicolas de Staël (1914-1955) was one of the most mysterious painters of the 20th century, with a tumultuous personal life often overshadowing the brilliance of his artistic legacy. Forced to leave Russia in 1917 due to the revolution, and with both parents dying shortly afterward, the orphaned de Staël grew up in Brussels and studied decoration and design at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts. During the 1930s, de Staël travelled across France, Morocco, and Algeria. This period was defined by love affairs and a brief stint in the Foreign Legion. The 1940s were eventually much more prosperous for de Staël’s career. Though critical acclaim came in the first half of the decade, de Staël lived in poverty with his partner Jeannine Guillou, who died from malnutrition in February 1946. A sellout show in late 1946 transformed de Staël into a success. Moving to Antibes in 1954, he suffered from depression and exhaustion, and the artist died the following year by leaping from the 11-story-high terrace of his studio. Some say it was motivated due to a rejection by a lover, others say it was the harsh words of a critic. Over the course of de Staël's life, creativity was a constant, with the artist producing thousands of works on paper and canvas imbued with emotion and passion.

Creatively, de Staël formulated a distinct personal style that was grounded in abstraction. As in this charcoal drawing, de Staël had the ability to capture the sense of a subject without resorting to literal representation. The sensual rhythm of Figure imbues the work with movement and suggests hidden depths within the humanoid shape that is created by the dark charcoal edges. Like looking through a key-hole, de Staël’s life and work is a complex story of love and loss, which this image seems to encapsulate.

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