Drawing 1 – Ben Nicholson – Research

Ben Nicholson (1894-1982)

Medium: Nicholson sometimes uses the technique of aquatint, the highlight of pencil or ink directly on events, often working with copper formats and not straight, irregular angles. He used as well oil, wash

Subjects : Still life, landscape, Abstract

Art mouvement: cubism, geometric

Influences : Cézanne , Picasso, Braque, Brancusi, Hans (Jean)Arp, Mondrian and Moholy-Nagy

Hometown : United Kingdom, he spent 1912 to 1914 in France and Italy, and was in the United States in 1917-18 and around three years in Switzerland

Ben Nicholson with his second wife, sculptor Barbara Hepworth

Ben Nicholson, a well-known British abstract painter, was born in Denham, Buckinghamshire. Both his parents were painters. His father was the painter Sir William Nicholson. The family moved to London in 1896. Ben Nicholson attended the Slade School of Fine Art in London in 1910 – 11. Then, between 1911 and 1914 he traveled through Europe, including Madeira for reasons of health (suffered from asthma). During the First World War he was exempted from military service owing to ill health.

In 1917, he travelled to New York for an operation on his tonsils. He returned to England in 1918.

Nicholson had three wives :

From 1920 to 1938 he was married to the painter Winifred Nicholson by whom he had three children: Jake (1927), Kate (1929) and Andrew (1931). They lived, between 1920-24, in Cumberland and London during winters the family moved to Castagnola in Switzerland.

From 1938 to 1951, he was married to Barbara Hepworth who Studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London . In 1951 Nicholson and Hepworth divorced.

In 1957, the third and final marriage of Nicholson was with Felicitas Vogler, a German photographer.

It said that he was influenced by his wives mainly Barbara Hepworth.

In 1968 Nicholson was awarded the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth.

In 1977, Nicholson and  Barbara Hepworthhey divorced

February 6, 1982, Ben Nicholson died in London and was cremated at Golders Green cemetery.

Nicholson, lived his entire life surrounded by artists, his father, mother, brother, wives. At first he was influenced by Cézanne, Picasso, Braque and started with a boundless passion in making still lifes and landscapes. He then quickly had a very strong tendency to geometric and cubic forms (geometrical still life). I can say that Nicholson’s works are often at the limit of abstraction and figuration as shown in the Oeuvre Cornish landscape below.

As said. he’s first influenced by cubic but over the time, his work will definitively be oriented towards  the abstract and geometric forms. As we can observe in his painting “St Ives”, below,

Nicholson did few versions of “St-Yves” during his stay over there…

Indeed, it’s a mix between soft and hard square forms and his meeting with Piet Mondrian has had an undeniably deep influence in his style of painting.

In 1933, Nicholson started his collection “Relief” and first painted without the use of color and in a fairly austere, minimalist and purism way.

He will, later, in the same collection, add the color and paint exceptional works..

I am particularly attracted by Ben Nicholson. Indeed, I really appreciate the purism, the absence of color and the geometrical forms. It’s clean, clear…..like the print “Two goblets and a mug – 1967”

During the last Christie’s auction, Thursday 27 september, the paintingViolon et guitare – 1933, was sold for 3,3 MEuros.

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