Ben Nicholson

1894
Born the 10th of April in Denham, Buckinghamshire to painters William and Mabel Nicholson.

1903-10
Educated at Heddon Court, Hampstead and for one term at Gresham's School, Holt while his family lived in Bloomsbury, London.

1910-11
Studied at Slade School of Fine Art for three and a half terms.
Befriended Paul Nash, about whom he wrote (in 1944): 'He was much more serious than I was - I was in the painting world and trying to get out and he was out and trying to get in'. At this time Nicholson flirted with the idea of becoming a writer.

1911-13
Studied French in Tours and Italian in Milan.

1914
Outbreak of First World War. Exempted from military service due to ill health and suffering from asthma.

1917-18
Decided to become a painter, mainly focusing on still life during this period. His paintings indicate a lack of interest in modernist developments and a high degree of dependence on his father's art.

1920
Married painter Winifred Roberts, with whom he had three children: Jake (1927), Kate (1929) and Andrew (1931).

1922
First one-man exhibition at Adelphi Gallery, London.

1923
Stayed with Paul Nash in Sussex where they painted together.

1924
Elected a member of the Seven and Five Society after a nomination by Ivon Hitchens.
Painted a number of abstract paintings, only three of which are known to survive.

1926
Became President of the Seven and Five Society (remained President until the society disbanded in 1936).

1927
Began Primitive landscape style, a development of his 'naive' approach to still life.

1931
Moved to London and marriage became strained. Met Barbara Hepworth and spent some time with her in Norfolk during the summer, together with Henry Moore and Ivon Hitchens.

1932
Moved to share a studio with Hepworth in Hampstead.

1933
Made his first reliefs.
Helion invited Nicholson and Hepworth to join Abstraction-Creation.

1934
Visited Mondrian at his studio in Paris. By March, the reliefs were painted white and employed a vocabulary of geometric shapes.

1935
Final exhibition of the Seven and Five Society, which was devoted exclusively to abstract art due to pressure from Nicholson and Piper.

1937
Publication of 'Circle' edited by Gabo, J L Martin and Nicholson.

1938
Married Barbara Hepworth.

1939
Moved to Cornwall, where he began to introduce landscape colours to his work due to the change in his surroundings.

1939-45
Spent the war years making small work, both abstract and figurative, the latter often depictions of Cornish scenes.

1943
Joined the St Ives Society of Artists and exhibited regularly with them until 1949.

1945
Stopped making abstract reliefs and concentrated on making still lifes and abstract paintings based on still life.

1948
First of two volumes edited by Herbert Read on Nicholson's art, published by Lund Humphries.

1949
Founding member of the Penwith Society of Arts. Exhibited regularly with the society until his departure from Cornwall in 1957.
Commissioned by Easton and Robertson to decorate two concave panels for steamship - this lead to a series of curved panel paintings.

1951
Commissioned to paint mural for the Festival of Britain. Nicholson and Hepworth divorced.

1952
Awarded first prize for painting at the 39th International Exhibition (Carnegie International).
First retrospectives outside the UK held at the Detroit Institute of Arts and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.
Commissioned to paint a mural for the Time Life building on New Bond Street, London.

1954
Represented Britain with a retrospective at the XXVII Venice Biennale where he received the 'Ulisse' acquisition prize from the International Jury.

1955
Retrospective at the Tate Gallery, London.
Received the Governor of Tokyo Award at the 3rd International Exhibition, Japan.

1956
Awarded Grand Prix at the Fourth Mostra Internazionale de Bianco e Nero, Lugano and First Guggenheim International Painting prize.
Second volume of book on Nicholson's work, edited by Herbert Read, published by Lund Humphries.

1957
Awarded first prize at the IV Sao Paulo Biennial.
Married Felicitas Vogler, a professional photographer.

1958
Left Cornwall for Ticino, Switzerland, built a house and studio overlooking Lake Maggiore.
Returned to making reliefs, now on a larger scale.

1968
Awarded the Order of Merit by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

1971
Separated from Felicitas Vogler and moved to Cambridge.
From here onwards Nicholson concentrated principally on drawing owing to deteriorating health.

1974
Received the Rembrandt Prize from the Johann Wolfgang Foundation.
Moved back to Hampstead, London.

1982
Died on the 6th of February in London.

 

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

1922
Adelphi Gallery, London

1924
Adelphi Gallery, London

1927
Lefevre Gallery, London
Beaux Arts Gallery, London
Bloomsbury Gallery, London

1930
Lefevre Gallery, London

1944
Leeds City Art Gallery, Temple Newsam House, Leeds (retrospective)

1949
Durlacher Gallery, New York

1951
Philip Gallery, Washington DC
Durlacher Gallery, New York

1952
Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, MI (retrospective)
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (retrospective)
Durlacher Gallery, New York

1954
Galerie Apollo, Brussels
XXVII Venice Biennale, British Pavilion, and touring: Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Palais de Beaux Arts, Brussels; Kunsthalle, Zurich

1955
Tate Gallery, London (retrospective)
Gimpel Fils, London
Samlaren Gallery, Stockholm
Durlacher Gallery, New York

1956
Galerie de France, Paris
Durlacher Gallery, New York

1957
Gimpel Fils, London

1959
Galerie Lienhard, Zurich
Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle
Kestner Gesellschaft, Hanover
Galerie Schmela, Dusseldorf
Gimpel Fils, London

1960
Galleria Lorenzelli, Milan
Gimpel Fils, London
Galerie Lienhard, Zurich

1961
Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York
Kunsthalle, Bern, Switzerland (retrospective)

1962
Galerie Lienhard, Zurich

1963
Kunstmuseum, St Gallen, Switzerland
Marlborough Fine Art, London

1964
Dallas Museum of Fine Art, Dallas, TX (retrospective)

1965
Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York
Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York

1966
Gimpel and Hanover Gallery, Zurich

1967
Kestner Gesellschaft, Hanover (and touring)
Galeria La Bussola, Turin (and touring)
Marlborough Fine Art, London

1968
Galerie Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland
Crane Kalman Gallery, London
Marlborough Fine Art, London

1969
Tate Gallery, London (75th birthday retrospective)

1970
Marlborough Fine Art, London

1971
Marlborough Fine Art, London

1974
Tate Gallery, London
Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York
Crane Kalman Gallery, London

1975
Andre Emmerich Gallery, Zurich

1976
Waddington Galleries, London
Agenzia d’Arte Moderna, Rome

1977
Kasahara Gallery, Osaka
Fuji Television Gallery, Tokyo

1978-1979
Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (retrospective) and touring: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; Brooklyn Museum, New York

1979
Waddington Galleries, Toronto

1980
Waddington Galleries, London

1982
Art Centre, Tokyo
Galerie Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland

1983
Micart, Tokyo
Kettles Yard, Cambridge and touring: Cartwright Hall, Bradford; Royal Museum, Canterbury; City Museum and Art Gallery, Plymouth

1984
Galerie Artek, Helsinki

1987
Foundation Juan March, Barcelona (and touring)
Rex Irwin Gallery, Sydney

1990
Galerie Marwan Hoss, Paris
Blum Helman Gallery, New York

1992-1993
Odakyu Museum, Tokyo and touring: Shizouka Perfectural Museum of Art; The Hakone Open Air Museum; Museum of Art, Osaka; The Museum of Modern Art, Gunma

1993
Foundation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny
Museo d’arte Mendrisio, Switzerland
Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London

1993-4
Tate Gallery, London (centenary retrospective) and travelling: Musee d’Art Moderne, Saint Etienne

1998
Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge

1999
Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal

2000
Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London

2001
Crane Kalman Gallery, London
Kettles Yard, Cambridge
Helly Nahmad, London

2002
Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge

2004
Jacobson Howard Gallery, New York

2007
Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London
Alan Cristea Gallery, London

2008
Austin/Desmond Fine Art Ltd, London

2009
Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London
Tate St. Ives, Cornwall

2011
Ben Nicholson: the Intimate Surface of Modernism, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, United Kingdom

2012
Courtauld Gallery, London
Tate Britain, London
Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London

2013
'Ben Nicholson: Lyric and Line 
Late Etchings', Bernard Jacobson Gallery, London

2014
'Art and Life' (Group show) 1920 – 1931, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London 

 

SELECTED COLLECTIONS

Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, UK
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford, UK
Beaverbrook Art Gallery, New Brunswick
Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
Courtauld Institute of Art, London, UK
Guggenheim Museum, New York City, New York
Harvard University Art Museums, Massachusetts
Hyde Collection Art Museum, New York
Manchester City Art Gallery, UK
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
Museum of London, UK
Museum of Modern Art, New York City
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK
National Museums and Galleries of Wales, UK
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania
Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Belgium
Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri
Tate Gallery, London, UK
The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago, Illinois
Walker Art Center, Minnesota