Ben Nicholson 1894-1982

Provenance

Lord Zucherman, and thence by descent

Exhibitions

Ben Nicholson 26 Feb - 5 April 1959, no.17 Kestner-Gesellschaft, Hanover and toured to Essen, Mannheim and Hamburg

Literature

Norbert Lynton, Ben Nicholson, Phaidon, London, 1993

This work dates form the period when Nicholson’s still life paintings were becoming increasingly complex and abstracted. The basic elements are reduced to a series of forms which, apart from the vessel to the far right of the composition, have mostly become simplified to a point where their original sources are lost. These are then combined around the central circular form which connects the work with the disc forms in his contemporary reliefs. The flatness of this form is in deliberate contrast to the rest of the image, where the surface is scraped and rubbed to give texture beside the illusionistic shadow forms that also help to suggest depth.

Nicholson’s visits to Paris at this time had given him a wide perspective on a number of movements. Prominent amongst these were the Cubists, especially Braque who he met for the first time in 1933. Also important were his contacts with the more abstract artists working in the city, including Arp, Brancusi and Helion.
In 1933 Nicholson’s interests were moving towards the non-referential, and in mid-1933 both he and Hepworth were invited to join Abstraction-Creation, an association of forward looking painters and sculptors.