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De Staël’s typically energetic work is seen at its most explosive here. He had been friends with several abstract artists of the previous generation, including Arp and Delaunay, and, like them, his paintings emphasise the physical nature of their surfaces. The title Marathon may reflect the struggle that the painter experienced in having his art accepted. De Staël, who tackled several sporting themes, may also have seen a comparison between the physical gestation of a painting and the extended exertion of the race.

July 2007