Nicolas de Staël was a French painter and child of a Russian-aristocratic family whose short life was marked by tragedy and great passion. Initially a representative of informal painting, he soon found his own, outmoded style, which combines abstraction with realism and was initially rejected by many of his colleagues. His works testify to both violence and constant force, but at the same time reveal to the observer a quiet, fragile side.
Nikolai Vladimirovich Baron Staël of Holstein, known as Nicolas de Staël, was born in Saint Petersburg on 5 January 1914. In the course of the Russian Revolution the family leaves Russia and moves to Poland. After the early death of his parents in the years 1921 and 1922 de Staël, together with his two sisters, grew up in Brussels with friends of the family, the Friceros. Oscillating between the genres of poetry and painting, de Staël, driven by an inner unrest, grows up. He attended the Academy in Brussels and received his first award at the age of only 20 years. After his education, he undertook extensive journeys to the Netherlands, France, Spain and the Maghreb before settling in the south of France. The light of the South and the power of the sea fascinate him. In Nice, from 1942 onwards, influenced by Christine Boumeester and Henri Goetz, he increasingly devoted himself to abstract painting, which at the time still finds little popularity in academic circles. The change to the figurative took place at the beginning of the 1950s, and later resulted in a synthesis of abstraction and figuration. The years before his death are characterized by a productive creative phase. With his works, he is particularly enthusiastic in New York, the young artistic metropolis. International success is a source of concern for him. Plagued with severe depression and a deep creative crisis, Nicolas de Staël committed suicide on 16 March 1955, by jumping from the balcony of his studio in Antibes. Although de Staël is regarded as a representative of informal art, he developed his own characteristic style towards the end of his creative career, with a return to pictoriality, characterised by an extremely powerful application of paint and a clear recognition of the texture. Until his death, only known to a few experts in France, he is today internationally regarded as a pioneer of many young artists.