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Biography (7/10)
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.