Ben Nicholson

Jacobson Howard is proud to present a selection of paintings and drawings by Ben Nicholson from September 8th to October 23rd 2004.

Ben Nicholson is widely regarded as one of the most important figures in the development of British Abstraction. He succeeded in reconciling the internationalism of the avant-garde with a uniquely British outlook, particularly in regard to light and surface. By the 1930's he had assumed a leading role within the European avant-garde.

Born into a family of painters in 1894, it was after traveling to Europe and Pasadena in his twenties that Nicholson seriously took up painting. He had seen Roger Fry's highly influential exhibition, "Manet and the Post Impressionists", while still a student at the Slade in 1910, which first introduced him to the work of Cezanne and subsequently the Paris modernism of the twenties. Cubism was to inform his entire oeuvre.

The exhibition at Jacobson Howard features paintings and drawings from key periods of Nicholson's life, beginning with the seminal "White Relief" of 1936, which was published in "Circle. International Survey of Constructive Art "(1937), the publication which Nicholson edited alongside Naum Gabo and the architect Leslie Martin.

Nicholson maintained that "so far from being a limited expression, understood by a few, abstract art is a powerful, unlimited and universal language". The universality of this language, in Nicholson's work, was underpinned by his belief that the cross fertilization of abstraction and representation in fact presented endless possibilities as opposed to restrictions.

Nicholson received numerous awards during his lifetime, including the First Prize for painting at Carnegie's 39th International Exhibition, 1952 and the Order of Merit from HM the Queen, 1968. During his lifetime his work was shown at prestigious institutions including the Tate Gallery, London, the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, and the San Francisco Museum of Art. Posthumously his work has been commemorated in major exhibitions at Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, the Tate Gallery, London and the Odakyu Museum, Tokyo.

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