An intimate look at Ben Nicholson's everyday inspirations
Throughout his career, Ben Nicholson (1894 – 1982) transformed everyday homewares into extraordinary experiments in abstract art.
Nicholson’s studio was filled with objects that inspired him. From patterned mocha-ware jugs and cut glass goblets to spanners, hammers and chisels, these ordinary personal possessions were a source of almost endless inspiration to the artist.
This exhibition brings together for the first time Nicholson’s paintings, reliefs, prints and drawings alongside his rarely seen personal possessions and studio tools. It traces how the artist’s style developed, from his early traditional tabletop still lifes to his later abstract works.
Still life was at the heart of Nicholson’s artistic practice. Through these humble items, he began to experiment with form and colour. His early works in particular owed inspiration to his father, the painter William Nicholson.
The exhibition will also trace the artistic and personal influences on Nicholson’s evolutionary still life style from the 1920s to the 1970s. It will explore his time with Winifred Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, as well as his encounters with other Modernist greats, Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian.
But of course I owe a lot to my father – especially to his poetic idea and his still-life theme … not only from what he did as a painter but from the very beautiful striped and spotted jugs and mugs and goblets, and octagonal and hexagonal glass objects which he collected. Having those things throughout the house was an unforgettable early experience for me.
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Ben Nicholson: From the Studio contains essays written by the exhibition’s curator Louise Weller and Nicholson expert Dr Lee Beard as well as a new study on the architecture of Nicholson’s studios from Professor Louise Campbell (author of Studio Lives: Architect, Art and Artist in 20th Century Britain) and a poetic response to the themes of the exhibition by writer and potter Edmund de Waal.
Accompanied by over a hundred full colour photographs of Nicholson’s work and new photography of the mochaware, glassware and other household items, this is a beautiful and fascinating insight into Nicholson’s work.