Our Artists

Nicolas de StaŽl

Nicolas de StaŽl occupies a unique place in post-war art. His modernity and his way of using medium and colour quickly brought him international fame. An artist who came to a tragic end (he committed suicide at the age of 41), his career was short but his output was immense: in 15 years he produced nearly 1,000 works (paintings, drawings and collages).


The early works

Nicolas de StaŽl was born into a family of aristocrats that fled Russia in 1919 for Poland, then Belgium in 1920. On the death of his parents in 1922, he was taken in by a Brussels engineer. In 1932 he entered the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels. He then embarked on a long series of travels in Europe and North Africa. In Holland, he discovered the works of Vermeer and Rembrandt. In Paris, he discovered Cťzanne, Matisse, Braque and Soutine. From 1934 to 1937, he travelled in Spain, Algeria and Morocco, where he met Jeannine Guillou, also a painter, who became his wife in 1936. He began to paint landscapes, still lives and portraits of his wife.


He moved to Nice in 1941, where he met Jean Arp and Sonia and Robert Delaunay, who persuaded him to move towards abstraction in 1942 with Composition. In Paris, during the German occupation, he completed a large number of drawings that were exhibited in a small gallery. A first exhibition of his paintings was mounted in 1945. This was the start of a long series of exhibitions in France and abroad that brought him critical and public success. Nicolas de StaŽlís paintings illustrate a resolutely modern vision of space. Colour and medium are also of vital importance in his works. His paintings of the time were often produced using a trowel, and are made up of thick layers of colour superimposed to create a relief.

The return to figurative work

Nicolas de StaŽlís abstraction reached its height in 1951-1952, at a time when he also returned to figurative work. This return is illustrated by a long series of paintings: Les Footballeurs. (Footballers) He then tackled a wide range of subjects: sport, orchestras, flowers, still life and a large number of landscapes, especially after his move to Antibes in 1954. However, he carried on using the same technique for completing his paintings, which are still dominated by large blocks of colour. In his final paintings, however, the medium loses its thickness, the paint becomes more fluid and the colours lighter.

ďThroughout my life, I have needed to think about painting, see paintings and paint to help me live, to free me from all the feelings, sensations and anxieties for which I have found no other release than painting.Ē Nicolas de StaŽl


Brise-Lames, (Breakwater) 1946-1947
La Vie dure, (Hard Life) 1946
Les Toits, (Roofs) 1952
Le Lavandou, 1952
Parc des Princes (Great Footballers)
L'Orchestre, (The Orchestra) 1953
Les Musiciens, (The Musicians) in memory of Sidney Bechet 1953
Agrigente, (Agrigento) 1953

Useful links


Exhibition at the Pompidou Centre (2003): education pack
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou (2003): "presentation in images"
Nicolas de StaŽl in the Pompidou Centre online collection, Paris

Nicolas de StaŽl 's products at Nouvelles Images

> Prints and posters

Prints and posters Cap Gris-Nez Prints and posters Fiesole Prints and posters Musicians

Nationality(ies) : French, Russian
Born on : 05/01/1914
Died on : 16/03/1947
Profile : Designer, Painter
Artistic current(s) : Abstract art
Theme(s) covered : Still life, Landscapes - Nature