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Ben Nicholson Biography


Born into a family of artists, Ben Nicholson was the son of artists Sir William Nicholson and Mable Pryde. His artistic journey began when was influenced by his father from an early age to paint still-lifes. During the years 1910-11 he studied at the Slade School of Art and during 1912-1914 spent most of his time travelling between France and Italy.

During his visits to Paris, he was introduced to the neoplastic style which persuaded him into an abstract direction. He married artist Winifred Roberts in 1920 and in 1922 his first exhibition of figurative works were displayed. His work then took on Synthetic Cubism undertones, before being influenced by Rousseau. In 1926 he then went on to chair the Seven and Five Society (now the Seven and Five Abstract Group).

In 1928 he first visited St Ives, Cornwall where in later life he would end up living for 19 years. He created his first ‘oil painting on wood’ sculpture in 1934 which contained only right angles and circles. He believed that abstract art should be enjoyed by all people. In 1943 he joined the St Ives Society of Artists. In 1952 Nicholson won the prestigious Carnegie Prize and in 1955 the Tate Modern held a retrospective exhibition of his works.

In 1956 and 1957 Nicholson won the first Guggenheim international painting prize and the Sao Paulo Art Biennial international painting prize respectively. In 1968 he received the British Order of Merit. He passed away in Hampstead in 1982.

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