Ben Nicholson 1894-1982

Born at Denham, Buckinghamshire, the son of William Nicholson, he studied at the Slade School 1910-11, and travelled widely in Europe and the United States 1912-18. He married Winifred Roberts and they lived (1920-31) in London and Cumberland, spending winters in Castagnola, Switzerland. His first one-man show was at the Adelphi Gallery in 1921, and he visited Paris in that year, seeing paintings by Picasso and Braque. During a visit to Cornwall in 1928 with Christopher Wood, the Nicholsons met Alfred Wallis, and bought work from him.

Nicholson was a member of the Seven and Five Society, and, until he and Nash moved apart, he was active in Unit One. In 1932 he visited Paris with Barbara Hepworth (who became his second wife in 1934) and met Picasso, Braque, Brancusi and Arp. On Subsequent visits to Paris in 1933 and 1934 they met Mondrian and Moholy-Nagy. Jean Helion encouraged him to join Abstraction-Creation in 1933. His Au Chat Bottle, 1932, reflects his contact with Braque, and his White Reliefs of 1933-8, which were carved, suggest the influence of both Hepworth and Mondrian; he also acknowledged his debt to Miro.

In 1937 he was editor of Circle, and from 1939 to 1958 lived in Cornwall. In 1951 he was commissioned to paint a mural for the Festival of Britain; in 1954 had a retrospective exhibition at the Venice Biennale, in 1955 at the Tate (another was held in 1969), and was subsequently awarded many international prizes. His earlier figurative work absorbed naïve approaches to drawing and composition; he later moved regularly between abstraction and figuration, always cool, harmonious colours, subtle textures and typically in precisely shaped interpenetrating and interlocking shapes. He married a third time and in 1958 moved to Ticino in Switzerland.... read more

Ben Nicholson Exhibition News

Ben Nicholson Paintings and Drawings


Ben Nicholson: Assisi, 1955