Ben Nicholson

February 1956 (menhir)

1956

In the early 1930s, Ben Nicholson began carving reliefs. By 1934 they were composed of circular and rectilinear elements that he painted white. When Nicholson returned to this expressive form in the mid-1950s, his reliefs became subtly varied in coloration and texture. The present example is particularly severe. The absence of curved or diagonal lines recalls the work of Piet Mondrian, whom Nicholson knew and admired. The muted, chalky color evokes early Italian Renaissance frescoes and shards of classical pottery. The parenthetical menhir in the title refers to the simple prehistoric stone slabs, an association reinforced by the vertical format and the hewn monochromatic surface of the board. The seemingly simple balance of shape, proportion, and placement is skillfully achieved to produce a work of austere harmony.

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Artist Ben Nicholson
Date 1956
Medium Oil (and ink?) on board
Dimensions 99.4 x 30 cm
Credit line Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York)
Accession 76.2553 PG 46
Collection Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Type Painting

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