Auction Alert: Parc des Princes by Nicolas de Staël

Christie’s is set to create a new world auction record with Parc des Princes by Nicolas de Stael during the International Contemporary Art Fair in October.

Nicolas de Staël - Parc des Princes, 1952
Nicolas de Staël – Parc des Princes, 1952

Christie’s, the world’s leading auction house totalled a massive $7 billion in its global auction, private and digital sales in 2018 and this year it seems to be on the path to even beating that score. Their latest announcement is the offer of Parc des Princes by Nicolas de Stael directly from the artist’s family with an estimate of 18-25 million euros, which if achieved could set a new world auction record!

A key artwork from the post-war era, Parc des Princes by Nicolas de Staël will be offered by Christie’s France on 17 October during the International Contemporary Art Fair – FIAC – for an estimate of €18,000,000-25,000,000, i.e. approx. between Rs.139 crores to Rs. 193 crores. Since de Staël’s demise in 1955, the painting has remained with his family.

Nicolas de Staël completed this large 200x350cm painting in the spring of 1952 and is considered among his best from the series on soccer players, which he created after attending the France-Sweden match with his wife on the evening of 26 March, 1952. Watching the players under the spotlight in the Parisian stadium, de Staël was moved by the striking scenes that he then began recreating with his palette knife.

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A rising star in abstract art of that time, de Staël was inspired by the forms and colours of the soccer players’ movements and he depicted it with a deliberate schematision using a colourful chromatic palette. He was at that time at the peak of his career and he achieved a stunning synthesis of figuration and abstraction. As he himself once wrote, “I do not set abstract painting as an opposition to figuration. A painting should be both abstract and figurative: abstract to the extent that it is a flat surface, figurative to the extent that it is a representation of space” (quoted in Nicolas de Staël in America (exhibition catalogue), The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., 1990, p. 22).

Parc des Princes  received critical acclaim at the Salon of May 1952, where it was exhibited for the first time, and then went on to garner much praise at first solo-exhibition at the Knoedler Gallery in March 1953, in several retrospectives at the Palais de Tokyo in 1956, at the Bern’s Kunsthalle in 1957, London Tate Modern in 1981, the Reina Sofia Arts Museum of Madrid in 1991 and even as recently as 2003 at the Centre Georges Pompidou.

Pierre Martin-Vivier, 20th Century International Director, said, “It is such a joy to present this historical and monumental painting in Paris during FIAC. Parc des Princes is a masterpiece by de Staël, a work that challenged the pictorial idiom of the post-war period. We believe that the art market will respond with the same enthusiasm which drives us. Coming directly from the family of the artist, it is estimated at 18-25 million euros, and could set a new world auction record”.