Lot 3
  • 3


2,000,000 - 3,000,000 EUR
2,652,500 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Staël, Nicolas de--Lecuire, Pierre
  • Agrigente
  • signed, titled and dated 1954 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas


Collection Jacques Dubourg, Paris
Collection Stephen Hahn, New York
Galerie Alex Maguy, Paris
Private Collection, Boston
Sotheby's, London, Contemporary Art, Part 1, 2 July 1998, lot 130
Galerie Daniel Malingue, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1999.


Jacques Dubourg et Françoise de Staël, Nicolas de Staël, Catalogue Raisonné des Peintures, Paris, 1968, p. 304, no. 717, illustrated 
Françoise de Staël, Nicolas de Staël, Catalogue Raisonné de l'Oeuvre Peint, Paris, 1997, p. 501, no. 770, illustrated 

Catalogue Note

Created on his return from an initiatory journey that took him from Northern Italy to Sicily, and more precisely Agrigento, the series entitled Agrigente that Nicolas de Staël painted between 1953 and 1954 is undoubtedly the most outstanding of his short yet dazzling career, which tragically ended on March 16, 1955.
Within this series of twenty paintings -each one more extraordinary than the other, several of which now kept in some of the most prestigious museums in the world like the L.A. MoCA or the Kunsthaus Zurich-, the work we present here is both climactic and programmatic. With its surprising monofocal perspective, knife-spread impastos revealing Staël's avant-garde gesture, extraordinary minimal composition, powerful expressive charge and contrasted palette of colors, Agrigente perfectly synthesizes the legacy of this XXth century genius. Although the series caused scandal at the time, sparking as much fascination as it did controversy, it sold out on the opening night of the show when the mythical New York gallery Paul Rosenberg exhibited it for the first time.
Next to his contemporaries Pollock, de Kooning, Dubuffet and Riopelle, Staël tremendously contributed to redefining abstraction and figuration. Through his use of sometimes opaque, sometimes opalescent lavish impastos that stretch the motif to the limits of readability while preserving the experience of infinity, Staël wants the viewer to experience, for the first time the latter makes us see, to quote the great poet René Char, the sea in red, the sky in yellow and the sand in purple.