"Nicolas de Staël. Northern lights, Southern lights." in Le Havre

From June 07, 2014 to November 09, 2014
  • Nicolas de Staël, Le Lavandou, 1952

    Nicolas de Staël, Le Lavandou, 1952

    © J.L.Losi © Adagp, Paris, 2014

  • Nicolas de Staël, Marine à Dieppe, 1952 collection privée, courtesy Galerie Applicat-Prazan

    Nicolas de Staël, Marine à Dieppe, 1952 collection privée, courtesy Galerie Applicat-Prazan

    © Photo Art Digital Studio / Adagp, Paris, 2014


    Light-filled and overlooking the sea, as well as being one of the temples of modern landscape painting Le Havre‘s modern art museum was designed during the very years when de Staël began to reintroduce figurative elements into his paintings, working in the Ile-de-France, the South of France and Normandy.

    In what was to be a meteoric artistic career, between 1942 and 1955 Nicolas de Staël produced a body of work widely acknowledged to be one of the freest of the postwar period. After an abstract phase, just as abstract art was prevailing, he moved on to a style of painting that reconnected with reality, nature and landcape, transcending the apparent opposition between abstract and figurative art.

    During 1951, the woodcuts de Staël made for a book entitled Poèmes – produced with René Char – helped him form a new conception of the pictorial space. At the end of the year, his painting opened up completely to the contrasting lights of the Ile-de-France, Normandy, the Midi and Sicily.

    For the period between the beginning of 1952 and March 1955, landscapes - mainly seascapes - represent slightly over half of his output.

    For de Staël, landscape did not mean the picturesque or accurate depiction of a location, but primarily light, space and the elements. He painted studies from nature and produced ink and felt-tip drawings on his travels, then reworked the subjects in the studio, constantly inventing new forms and moving from using thick layers of paint to using paint so diluted as to be almost transparent.

    This exhibition will comprise over 130 works (80 paintings and 50 drawings) produced between 1951 and 1955. A quarter of them have either never been exhibited at all or never been exhibited in Europe.

    Admission fees and rates

    • Full: from €9 / Discounted from €7
    • Free under age 26 and each first saturday of month

Things to see

Point of interest

  • Rendez-vous in Le Havre

    © Fabrice Moley / OTAH

    City of Normandy classified in the UNESCO world heritage, Le Havre does not stop innovating and being renewed, offering a wide choice of activities: water sports, seaside, terraced gardens and shoppping.
  • Rendez-vous in Honfleur

    © OT Honfleur / J. Radanovic

    Honfleur is like no other port on earth. Discover a medieval town, with a great maritime history, and one of the birthplaces of Impressionism.
  • Built upon a few acres of marshland and dunes 150 years ago, Deauville is today one of the most memorable seaside resort and business tourism place of its area.
  • Barrière Golf Course in Deauville

    © Golf Barrière de Deauville

    Found on Mount Canisy, 4km from Deauville, this golf course overlooks the town and offers a stunning, unique view of the sea and surrounding countryside of Normandy.
  • Barrière Golf Course in Saint-Julien

    © Lucien Barrière

    Here is a golf course designed in the best of British tradition. Two winding courses at the mercy of lake water-hazards, and lifted by the soft hills of the wooded countryside.
  • Rendez-Vous in Lisieux

    © OT Lisieux

    Since the early twentieth century, Lisieux has been famous all over the world thanks to Saint Thérèse.
  • The Juno Beach Sector

    © Juno Beach Centre

    The name Juno Beach signifies some of the Canadian force's greatest sacrifice in the name of the Liberation of France.
  • Rendez-vous at the Caen Memorial

    © Calvados Tourism

    The Caen Memorial will immerse you in 20th century history, from World War II to the Cold War.
  • Rendez-Vous in Caen

    © Boats in the "Solitaire du Figaro" race, in the first leg linking Caen to Ireland.

  • Ardenne Abbey

    © All rights reserved

    The Abbaye d'Ardenne was the scene of a dark page in history of D-Day.
  • Denise Colomb, Nicolas de Staël dans son atelier, rue Gauguet, Paris, 1954, photographie

    Denise Colomb, Nicolas de Staël dans son atelier, rue Gauguet, Paris, 1954, photographie

    © Ministère de la Culture – Médiathèque du Patrimoine, Dist. RMN- Grand Palais/ Denise Colomb / Service de presse, MuMa le Havre