Nicolas de Staël
Twenty years after the oneorganised by the Centre Pompidou in 2003, this exhibition offers a fresh look at theartist's work, drawing on more recent thematic exhibitions that have highlighted certain little-known aspects of his career (Antibes in 2014, Le Havre in 2014, Aix-en-Provence in 2018).
The retrospective brings together a selection of around 200 paintings, drawings, prints and notebooks from numerous public and private collections in Europe and the United States. Alongside such emblematic masterpieces as Parc des Princes, it presents an important group of works that have rarely, if ever, been exhibited, including around fifty shown for the first time in a French museum.
Organised chronologically, the exhibition traces the artist's successive developments, from his first figurative steps and his dark, thickly-painted canvases of the 1940s, to his paintings onthe eve of his premature death in 1955. Although the bulk of his work was completed in a dozen years, Staël never ceased to renew himself and explore new avenues: his "inevitable need to break everything when the machine seems to be running too smoothly" led him to produce a remarkably rich and complex body of work, "without any a priori aesthetic".Unaffected by the fashions and quarrels of his time, his work deliberately overturns the distinction between abstraction and figuration, and appears to be the pursuit, carried out in an emergency, of an ever denser and more concise art: "Life is so sad without paintings that Igo for it as long as I can," he wrote.
The retrospective allows us to follow this pictorial quest of rare intensity step by step, beginning with his youthful travels and his first years in Paris, histime in the Vaucluse, his famous trip to Sicily in 1953, and finally his last months in Antibes, in a studio facing the sea.
Staël's biography immediately created a myth around his art: from his exile after the Russian Revolution to his tragic suicide at the age of 41, the painter's life never ceased to influence the understanding of his work. Without neglecting this mythical dimension, the retrospective intends to remain as close as possible to Staël's graphic and painterly research, in order to show above alla painter at work, whether facing the landscape or in the silence of the studio. An exiled child who became a tireless traveller, the artist is fascinated by the world's spectacles and their different lights, whether he is confronted with the sea, a football match, or a piece of fruit on a table.Constantly varying the tools, techniques and formats – from the tableautin to the monumental composition – Staël liked to work on several canvases in parallel, superimposing layers of paint and successively altering them. Drawing plays a major role in this exploration, and a rich selectionof works on paper underlines its experimental character.
An extract from the documentary Nicolas de Staël, La peinture à vifby François Lévy-Kuentz, co-written with Stéphane Lambert and Stéphan Lévy-Kuentz and co-produced by Martin Laurent(Temps Noir) and ARTE France, will run continuously in the exhibition rooms and will be broadcastin its entirety on ARTE.
The exhibition catalogue provides a deeper understanding of the painter's work, with textson his relationship to the masters of the past and to his contemporary Georges Braque, aswell as his relationship to landscape and still life. The catalogue also contains an interviewby the curators with Anne de Staël, the artist's eldest daughter, as well as the completeunpublished text of the Diary of the Staël Years by Pierre Lecuire, writer, editor and closefriend of Staël.
The exhibition will be presented at the Fondation de l'Hermitage in Lausanne from 9 February to 9 June 2024.
With the support of ING, Linklaters and Perella Weinberg Partners.
Public et Horaire
- Enfant / Adolescent
- Enfant / Adolescent
Nicolas de Staël, Agrigente, 1954, huile sur toile, 60 × 81 cm, collection particulière © ADAGP, Paris, 2023
Nicolas de Staël dans son atelier, été 1954. (c) Denis Colomb
Nicolas de Staël, Le Parc des Princes, 1952, Photo Courtesy Christie’s
Sicile, Ménerbes, 1954, Huile sur toile, 114 x 146 cm, Musée de Grenoble
Fabrice Hergott, directeur du musée d’Art moderne de Paris
Charlotte Barat-Mabille, commissaire d’exposition au Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris,
Pierre Wat, historien de l’art
Marie du Bouchet, scientific advisor