Presenting 71 paintings and 26 drawings from prestigious international public and private collections, the exhibition focuses—for the first time and exclusively—on the development of Nicolas de Staël’s work during his Provençal period, between July 1953 and June 1954.
Nicolas de Staël’s Provençal period was an important turning point in the painter’s life and work. Between July 1953 and June 1954, the artist drew new inspiration from Provence. His discovery of the midday Provençal sun, the exceptional beauty of the landscapes, his love affair with a woman, and the intense experience of solitude that enabled him to produce works for his future exhibition at the Paul Rosenberg Gallery in New York were all experiences that nourished his imagination and the incredible pace of his artistic work. Nicolas de Staël’s international fame grew in the heart of Provence.
In Lagnes (July 1953), he attained his quest for light in his work. The landscape motifs were depicted faithfully and with greater observation of the light as it changed during the day. In August, the painter travelled to Sicily. His exploration of the landscapes, archaeological sites, and museums enabled him, when he returned to Lagnes, to begin working on a series of paintings—some of the most significant works in his career—, based on notes made in his sketchbooks at Agrigento, Ragusa, Syracuse, Catania, Taormina, and Fiesole. During this period, his interest in nude studies found complete expression in the large-scale paintings of figures and nudes that interacted with the landscapes.
In 1954, following a year of intensive work, the painter was confident that he had done his best. When he was preparing for his exhibition in New York, he wrote to Paul Rosenberg: ‘What I’ve given you should ensure that you can hold the finest ever exhibition of my work.’ The exhibition ‘Nicolas de Staël in Provence’ highlights the summit of Staël’s pictorial work. In these works close observation resulted in highly innovative representations of nature.
Visuel bandeau : Nicolas de Staël, Agrigente (detail), 1953-54, oil on canvas, Private collection - Courtesy Lefevre Fine Art, Londres © Adagp Paris, 2018