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Nicolas de Staël

(Russian Federation, 1914-1955)
Estimate
900 000 - 1 000 000 SEK
81 800 - 90 900 EUR
85 600 - 95 100 USD
Hammer price
940 000 SEK
Covered by droit de suite

By law, the buyer will pay an artist fee for this work of art. This fee is 5% of the hammer price, or less. For more information about this law:

Sweden: BUS
Finland: Kuvasto

Purchasing info
Image rights

The artworks in this database are protected by copyright and may not be reproduced without the permission of the rights holders. The artworks are reproduced in this database with a license from Bildupphovsrätt.

For condition report contact specialist
Lena Rydén
Stockholm
Lena Rydén
Head of Art, Specialist Modern and 19th century Art
+46 (0)707 78 35 71
Nicolas de Staël
(Russian Federation, 1914-1955)

Composition

Signed Staël. Executed 1946. Canvas 61 x 46 cm.

Provenance

Private collection Paris.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel.
Private collection, Milan.
Anonymous auction, Motte, Genève, 15 November 1966, cat no. 86.
Anonymous auction, Drouot, Paris, 30 March 1982, catno. 91.
Galerie Malmquist, Malmö.
Acquired at the above gallery in 1960.

Exhibitions

Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Turin, "Nicolas de Staël", May- June, 1960, cat no 16 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue p. 46).
Galerie Beyeler, Bâle, "Nicolas de Staël", August - October, 1964, cat no 10.
Museé d'Unterlinden, Colmar, "Nicolas de Staël", June - October, 1977, cat no 6 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue).

Literature

F de Staël 73

More information

Painted in 1946, Nicholas de Staël’s “Composition” dates from the height of his abstract phase, which lasted from 1946-1955 and is considered the most active and significant period of his artistic career. It displays all the elements characteristic for the works produced during this period: block-like slabs of color emerge as if struggling against one another across the surface of the canvas amid tangles of broken lines. Aggressively dark vertical and diagonal lines in brown and grey, seem to go deliberately against the underlying composition, and dominate the canvas creating a grid.

Nicholas de Staël was born in Russia but his family soon went into exile in the wake of the October Revolution. Following the death of his parents, he was taken in by close friends in Brussels. With their support he studied traditional Flemish art in Brussels at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts and the Académie des Beaux-Arts de Saint-Gilles-les-Bruxelles. However, he began to move further towards abstraction, adopting a highly distinctive and abstract style, similar to the American Abstract Expressionist Movement, but which developed independently of it.

With its very dark and earthy colours, the work of the auction is typical for de Staël’s production from 1945 and onwards. The post-war years marked a period of great difficulty for him. There was a significant decline in the sales of his paintings: de Staël suffered financial hardship and was frequently forced to move studios. Also the death of his long term partner, the artist, Jeannine Gillou in 1946 left de Staël devastated and he entered a state of severe depression.

A breaking point for Staël was when he in Paris befriended the Russian artist Andre Lanskoy, whom he referred to as his teacher. Although Lanskoy was also working in an abstract style at the time, his works were characterized by brighter colours, movement and energy that were of great interest to de Staël. He was also influenced by the art of Georges Braque and Charles Lapique, famous for his exploration of colour and spatial construction. The offered work marks the revitalization of his life and work after a long period of depression and struggle.

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