Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ben Nicholson

December 1951-St Ives- Oval and Steeple
1951; oil and pencil on board; 50 x 66.5 cm; Bristol Art Gallery, Bristol, England

Born Denham, England 1894; died London, England 1982

Ben Nicholson's only formal training was undertaken between 1910-1911 at the Slade School of Art, London, where he befriended Paul Nash. His visits to Paris in the 1920s and 1930s were a seminal influence on his own work, due to his contact with such significant artists as Picasso, Arp, Brancusi and Braque. His white relief pictures and later hard-edged geometrical paintings and reliefs of the early 1940s reveal an original application of his grasp of Cubist principles. The impact that Mondrian's calculated abstracts had on Nicholson was absorbed of pure colour that reinforced the structural strength of his refined pictorial design. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Nicholson and his second wife, sculptor Barbara Hepworth, mved to St Ives, in Cornwall, which was becoming the centre of an artistic community. The local environment acted as a catalyst for the return of figuration to his work. By 1951, when his marriage ended and he moved to Switzerland, these elements were becoming more subtle, as in December 1951- St Ives - Oval and Steeple. This elegant composition of line and colour is characteristic of Nicholson's understated sophisication and of his contribution to British abstraction.

Anson, Libby and Hodge, Nicola (2002). The A-Z of Art (p. 282). Dubai: Carlton Books Limited

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