Reality and abstraction were brilliantly interwoven in the artwork of Nicolas De Staël (1914 – 1955). An artist from the former Soviet Union who settled in Paris, De Staël originally painted still lifes and portraits. When his abstract style emerged, De Staël incorporated realistic elements in paintings created with a palette knife in thick, encrusted color blocks. A year after his move to Paris, he exhibited with renowned artist Wassily Kandinsky. De Staël tragically committed suicide, but lives on as an exceptionally influential post-war European artist.