Ben Nicholson

Kenny Ackerman

artist Ben Nicholson

Ben Nicholson by Humphrey Spender

British (1894-1982)

Ben Nicholson was born in England into a family of artists.  Both his parents were painters and other members of his family where artists, including his brother and grandparents.  In the early 1900s, he studied art and traveled to France, Italy and the United States.  His early work was heavily influenced by the style his father practiced and was mainly still life subjects.  He was given an exhibition in a gallery in 1919 and by 1924 had his first solo show in London.

By the 1920s, he began to paint figures and abstract pieces.  Ben Nicholson was interested in the works of the Post Impressionist, Primitive and Synthetic Cubist artists.  In 1926, he chaired the Seven and Five Society, which was a group of seven painters and five sculptors. Later artists to join included Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth which brought a modernist view point to the society and would further influence Nicholson’s work.  In 1938, Ben Nicholson married sculptor Barbara Hepworth.  This was his second marriage and it lasted for only 13 years.  He made several trips to France to visit the studios of Picasso, Braque, Arp, and Mondrian.  These artists certainly influenced Ben Nicholson’s work.

Ben Nicholson died on February 6, 1982, in London.  He won throughout his career numerous prizes for his artistic achievements including, the Carnegie International Prize, Guggenheim International painting prize, the prize for painting at the Sao Paulo Bienal and in 1968 he was awarded the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth.  His work has been shown in several retrospectives and his considered to be one of Britain’s most important modernist artists.