Paris, 1929. Finding the Masters
At the atelier "La Grande Chaumière,"
where he was painting, Staude met the Austrian sculptor, Ludwig Kasper.
Kasper was of farming stock. He was a man of few and grumpy words, but
in the course of their visits to the Jeu-de-Paume, where the French
impressionist paintings were hanging, Staude realized that this follower
of the sculptor Adolf Hildebrand and the painter Hans von Marées
had something fundamental to teach him, and he insisted that he should
pass on to him some of his knowledge.
Eventually, in front of the paintings by Cézanne and his contemporaries,
Kasper spoke to him of the "concept of form," a concept that
defines the great art of all times and cultures and that now helped
Staude to clarify and strengthen his own artistic intentions. 'Nobody
like Cezanne has mastered "trees", "houses", "faces"
etc., turning them into the compositional elements of a painting,' he
wrote years later to his German friend Herbert Schmidt-Colinet. 'He
is the mother's milk to us all.'
The break-up of the 'motif' into its elements of space, volumes, light
and shade, and the composition of the painting according to formal and
colouristic values derived exclusively from 'the intrinsic law of the
painting itself' is Cézanne's imperative, an imperative that
lies at the heart of Staude's art as well. To see today's reality through
the filter of ever-valid forms: that is what Paris had taught, and what
Kasper had helped Staude understand.
After his stay in Paris, Staude saw Cézanne as well as Degas
and Manet as his direct teachers, his forerunners. With them he would
converse, to them he would compare himself, and this dialogue with the
French impressionists continued throughout the years, till one of the
last days of his life when, on being shown a watercolour by Manet, his
eyes lit up: 'Masterly - and so contemporary!'
Being 'contemporary,' being of its own time, was a value Staude highly
appreciated in a work of art, which is why Paris, the city where modern
art and literature were born, was to remain forever one of the havens
of his nostalgias.
Though 'the way' was now found, Staude remained restless, dissatisfied.
But one day, during a short stay at Mont-de-Marsan, in the South of
France, where he was resting at the home of a French cousin, Staude
saw a fig tree through his open window. In front of the vision of that
tree - which he must have likened to Italy itself - he recognized where
his mistake lay. The very next day he packed his bags and left for Florence
again, where he arrived on Whit Sunday. Sitting under the fig tree at
Maja Winteler's home, he wrote to Heino Elkan from the midst of the
Tuscan campagna. This to him was 'the landscape that I bear within me'
and he would never leave it again.
Of Germany he spoke little in the next decade. The friends from his
younger years were going their own ways. His mind, however, was doubtlessly
rooted in the German idealistic and romantic tradition, and with that
spirit he settled down in Florence and began to paint.