The work of Nicolas de Staël (Saint Petersbourg, Russia, 1913/1914 - Antibes, France, 1955) typifies another possible route for post-war art - the pleasure of painting. In France after the Second World War painting is not only confined to vindicating its role as a medium for representing the experience of horror and human barbarity, as demonstrated by Alfred Otto Wols, Jean Fautrier and Jean Dubuffet, whose works mark a destructive reaction in contrast to European artistic and cultural traditions. de Staël goes beyond the division of war by tracing his own genealogy in avant-garde figures such as César Domela, Hans Arp, Henri Laurens and, primarily, Georges Braque and his compatriot, André Lanskoy. His painting cannot be defined as abstract, but drifts more between the experience and exploration of reality and is able to formulate a new figuration by arriving at the essence of forms through analysis. Over the space of ten years, de Staël's career starts with an initial admiration of the leading figures in the history of European painting (Tiziano Vecellio, El Greco, Jacopo Bellini, Andrea Mantegna, Jan Vermeer, Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Eugène Delacroix), and ends with the persistent questioning of the foundations of modern painting via Paul Cézanne and Vincent Van Gogh.