Who was Ben Nicholson?
Ben Nicholson was a twentieth century abstract
artist and painter.
Date and Place of Birth:
12th April 1894, Eight Bells, Denham, Buckinghamshire,
Nicholson was the son of Sir William Nicholson,
also an artist, and Mabel Pryde.
Tyttenhangar Lodge Preparatory School, Seaford.
Heddon Court, Hampstead. Greshams School, Holt. Slade School of
Fine art, London.
Chronology/Biography of Ben Nicholson:
1894: Family moves
to Bedford Park, Chiswick to be nearer to member of the Pryde family.
1896: Family moves
to 1 Avonmore Gardens, West Kensington, London.
1897: Family moves
to Elm Lodge, Mitcham, Surrey. Birth of brother Anthony.
1898: Family moves
to Chaucer's House Woodstock.
1899: Birth of Nicholson's
Sister Annie Mary.
1904: Family moves
to 1 Pilgrim's Lane, Hampstead, London. Meets J. M. Barrie on holiday
in Rustington, Sussex. Nicholson does a poster for "Peter Pan".
1906: Family moves
to 38 Mecklenburgh Square, Bloomsbury, London.
meets Paul Nash at the Slade School of Fine
1911: Stays with
the Nash family in Iver Heath.
1912: Goes to Tours
in France to learn French.
travels with his mother to Madeira for health reasons. On the Outbreak
of the First World War he is exempted from military service due
to asthma. (October) Exhibits "A Jug" at the International
Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers exhibition at the Grosvenor
Gallery in London. Moves into rooms in 110 Heath Street, Hampstead.
1915: Moves to the
King's Road, Chelsea. Exhibits again at the Grosvenor Gallery.
meets the Poet Robert Graves at Harlech.
Travels to New York and has an operation on his tonsils. Travels
to Chicago, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.
1918: Wedding of
his sister Nancy and the writer Robert Graves. Discovers Christian
Science. Death of his mother during the Flu Epidemic. (September)
arrives back in England.
exhibits at the Grosvenor Gallery, London.
in Venice, Florence, Rome, Amalfi, Pisa, Naples and Portofino. Thoughts
of settling in Italy are dispelled as it is too "dirty".
Buys a house, the Villa Capriccio, at Castagnolo in Switzerland.
1921: Is influenced
by a Picasso painting which he sees at Paul Rosenberg's studio in
1922: David Bomberg
and his wife stay with the Nicholsons at Villa Capriccio.
1923: Returns to
England after trying to sell the villa. Finally buys a farmhouse
called Banks Head at Banks near Brampton in Cumberland.
first one-man show at the Adelphi Gallery. Paints his first abstract
paintings. Spends a lot of time in London whilst Winifred remains
in Cumberland. Becomes a member of the Seven and Five Society after
being nominated by Ivon Hitchens.
1925: Sees the Raphael
drawings at the Ashmoleum Museum in Oxford. Exhibits at the Lefevre
1926: Exhibits in
the Seven and Five Society Exhibition at the Beaux Arts Gallery.
Now living in Chelsea most of the time. Spends Christmas at Banks
begins painting in his primitive landscape style. Meets the ballet
dancer and choreographer Leonide Massine. (April) Winifred injures
herself whilst pregnant at the Beaux Arts Gallery falling through
a trap door. Makes a recovery and first son Jake is born in June.
1928: Spends time
in London and at Banks Head. Also travels to Cornwall to find lodgings.
(August) Nicholson and Christopher Wood discover Alfred Wallis,
the old fisherman painter in St. Ives.
1929: (July) Birth
of Nicholson's daughter Kate.
1930: One man show
at the Lefevre Gallery, London. (May) Exhibits in Paris with Wood.
Winnifred gives up painting for a short time to concentrate on writing
stories. (1st august) Death of Christopher Wood.
1931: John Skeaping,
the Husband of Barbara Hepworth, exhibits
as a non member with Nicholson in the Seven and five Society exhibition
at the Leicester Galleries. (July) Birth of son Andrew. (September)
visits Barbara Hepworth at Happisburgh
in Norfolk where they are renting a cottage and also sees Henry
1932: As his relationship
with Winifred is waning since meeting with Hepworth
he needs to earn his own money and not rely on Winifred's inherited
wealth. He therefore takes on a pupil. (June) Exhibits in Hamburg.
Spends Christmas in Paris with Winifred
meets the Cubist Georges Braque in Paris and also Man Ray and Alberto
Giacometti. (November) shares an exhibition with Hepworth at the
Lefevre Gallery. Meets the Dutch Painter Piet Mondrian in Paris.
1934: Designs a
poster for Imperial Airways after experiencing his first flight
from Paris to London. Exhibits at the Venice Biennale.
exhibits at the Exposition Internationale d'Art Moderne in Brussels.
1936: Exhibits in
the "Abstract and Concrete" exhibition in Oxford alongside
Mondrian, Wassily Kandinsky, Jean Arp and Naum Gabo. Exhibits in
the "Cubism and Abstract Art" exhibition at the Museum
of Modern Art in New York.
1937: Exhibits in
1938: Exhibits at
the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Considers taking a job as a commercial
artist for two days a week because money is tight. Winifred and
Nicholson finally divorce.
exhibits at the London Gallery. (August) He and
Hepworth, now married visit Little Park Owles, Carbis Bay, Cornwall
and with the outbreak of the Second World War they decide to stay
there. Naum Gabo takes up residence nearby. Takes the painter Peter
Lanyon on as a pupil before he is called up top join the Royal Air
1940: Several exhibitions
at the Lefevre Gallery. The Tate Gallery except a gift from the
Contemporary Art Society of "1933 (guitar) (no 38)" the
first Nicholson in a national collection.
1941: Works in the
Home Guard answering telephone calls during the night.
1942: Exhibits at
the R.B.A. Galleries in the Mall in London. An album of photographs
of the work of Hepworth and Nicholson
is bought by the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
joins the St. Ives Society of Artists and begins to exhibit frequently.
of his work held by Leeds City Galleries at Temple Newsam
has a Solo Exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery. Finds post war London
oppressive and decides to stay in Cornwall
1946: Exhibits in
1947: Involved in
four separate British Council exhibitions which tour Europe.
1948: (July) Penguin
publishers finally bring out their book on Nicholson.
and Hepworth break away from the St. Ives Society of Artists and
start up the rival Penwith Society of Arts and invite Herbert Read
to become President. First one man show in New York. (16th May)
Death of his father.
1950: Begins regular
trips to Italy. Hepworth is selected
for the Venice Biennale over Nicholson and this puts a further strain
on their now difficult relationship. Commissioned to paint a mural
for the Riverside Gallery which is on the Festival of Britain site.
Exhibits in Philadelphia and New Zealand.
1951: Solo show
at the Durlacher Gallery in New York. Is included in "Surrealisme
et Abstraction" show in Brussels and the Stedelijk, Amsterdam
with other works from Peggy Guggenheim's collection.
1952: Solo show
at the Lefevre Gallery. Commissioned to paint a mural for the Time
Life Building in New Bond Street, London. Represents Britain in
the "International Art Exhibition" in Tokyo.
selected for the Venice Biennale with Francis
Bacon and Lucien Freud. The show moves on to the Tate Gallery.
1954: One man show
in Brussels where he wins the award of show of the year by the critics.
exhibition at the Tate Gallery.
1956: Exhibits in
Edinburgh and a British Council touring exhibition.
visits the U.S.A. to collect the Guggenheim Prize. Resigns membership
of the Penwith Society of Arts. Exhibits in Tokyo and New Delhi.
1958: Leaves for
Switzerland with his new wife. They settle in a house called Casa
Ticinella with views of Lake Maggiore. They then move on to a bigger
house, the Casa Vecchia in Ronco. Offered an honorary doctorate
by the University of Birmingham but says he will only accept if
he does not have to receive it in person.
1959: One man show
1960: Work begins
on his house Casa alla Rocca at Gadero, Brissago on Lake Maggiore
exhibition at the Kunsthalle in Berne
1962: Exhibits at
the World's Fair in Seattle. Solo show in Zurich.
has a one man shows at the Marlborough Gallery and Gimpel Fils in
London. Visits Graham Sutherland in
exhibition in Dallas. Travels to Portugal and the Cote d'Azure.
Exhibits at the Pittsburgh International.
declines the Companion of Honour.
1966: Visits Crete
and Venice. Solo Show at Gimpel and Hanover Gallery in Zurich.
1967: Solo show
in Hanover, Munich and Berlin. Tours the Greek Islands with, amongst
others Victor Passmore.
1968: Awarded the
Order of Merit. Declines the Freedom of St. Ives. Exhibits in Berne
and Basle. Visits the Venice Biennale. (October) Contributes to
"Artists for Czechoslovakia" at the Camden Arts Centre
declines the Honorary Doctorate from Cambridge University. Exhibits
drawings at the Marlborough Gallery with Mondrian.
1971: Agrees to
live apart from his wife as he needs to return to England. Moves
to Cambridge. Meets and works with Angela Verren-Taunt
1972: Declines the
Honorary Doctor of Art degree by the Royal College of Art. Tours
Greece with Verren-Taunt.
1973: One man show
at Gimpel Fils Gallery, London. Travels to Cyprus with Verren-Taunt.
Solo show in Basle. Drawing holiday with Verren-Taunt in Wharefdale,
Yorkshire and they also visit the Cotswolds and Compton Winyates
receives the Rembrandt Prize from the Goethe Foundation. Visits
Tuscany. Moves to Hampstead London.
1975: Solo show
in Zurich. Visits Tuscany again. Drawing trip to Yorkshire.
1976: One man show
in Rome and the Waddington Galleries. Visits Tuscany. Exhibition
of prints at the Tate Gallery.
1977: Drawing in
Yorkshire. Solo show in Osaka, Japan. Divorce from Vogler finally
1978: Spends a week
in Yorkshire with Verren-Taunt. Solo exhibitions in London.
1980: Solo shows
in Budapest and London.
develops problems with his sight.
1982: Solo Shows
at the Art Center in Tokyo and the Waddington Galleries in London.
Included in "Circle: Constructive Art in Britain 1934-40"
at the Kettle's Yard Gallery in Cambridge.
1. 5th November 1920 to Winnifred Roberts at
St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, London. (divorced 1938) (died 1981).
2. 1938: 17th November To Barbara Hepworth
at Hampstead Register Office. (divorced 1951) (died 1975).
3. July 1957 to Felicitas Vogler, a German photographer. (divorced
Date and Place of Death:
6th February 1982, London, England.
Age at Death:
Site of Grave:
Cremated. Ashes scattered over Golders
Green Cemetery in the absence of instructions from his family.
Places of Interest:
Bristol City Art Gallery.
Tate Gallery, St. Ives.
Abbot Art Gallery, Kendal
Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester.
Civic Art Gallery, Southampton.
The Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham.
Pallant House, Chichester, West Sussex.
Firle Place, Lewes, East Sussex.
TYNE AND WEAR:
Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle.
Herbert Art Gallery, Coventry.
Art Collection, THe University of Hull.
Ory Art Gallery, Leeds.
Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield.
Art Gallery, Wakefield.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh.
Aberdeen Art Gallery.
Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, Orkney Islands.
Ulster Museum, Botanic Gardens, Belfast.