Posts Tagged ‘Nicolas de Staël’


Saturday, April 24th, 2010

I’ve spent most of this year playing round with sources, styles, and techniques. Worthwhile, but to the extent that I’d gotten so far away from what I like about painting I couldn’t quite remember what that was. There was a lack of catharsis, which was part of why I was experimenting, and part of why I create: it was exercise.

Reading a (rather too Frencherly written) book on Nicolas de Staël—whom I discovered recently via Robert Hughes’ (rather insightfuly written) book on Frank Helmut Auerbach—was the wake-up moment.

Nicolas de Staël - Portrait of Anne
Nicolas de Staël – Portrait of Anne
Nicolas de Staël - Football Players
Nicolas de Staël – Football Players

Seeing (some) of his paintings, particularly the two paintings above, did what I find most art I really like does, and that is remind me of something inside myself. The artists I most like are the ones I feel I share something with. I am attracted to the way de Staël straddles abstraction and description. All his paintings come from his eye, but he describes what he sees in near-geometric forms. There’s tension, and contradiction in his work that I feel very sympathetic with. But there is also a distance that I want to avoid.