Who made this? Who is Foxy and Frankie? It’s kind of silly! It was made by Ben Nicholson of course! Let’s meet him!
Ben Nicholson was a British Modernist who made Abstract paintings in neutral colours that featured squares, circles and rectangles. They were very simple and flat. Here is the first abstract painting he ever made. What do you think of it? Do the shapes remind you of anything?
This picture is painted on a canvas, but later he painted on wooden boards. He would use a razor blade to scrape back the paint so that the pictures looked weather beaten and old as if they had been eroded by time.
Nicholson was born in England in 1894 and married the artist and sculptor Barbara Hepworth. They often worked together and found inspiration in each other’s artwork. Do you work with friends and family? Have you ever tried to make art with someone else?Nicholson’s father was a very famous and eccentric artist called William Nicholson who had a great influence on him. While he was studying at the Slade School of fine art in London, Nicholson discovered Cubism, which inspired him to start experimenting with new modernist ideas.
In 1934 Nicholson visited the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian in his studio in Paris. He was very impressed with the feeling of light Mondrian had created. He began to make paintings inspired by Mondrian using primary colours and tones of blue, grey and white. This painting is called June 1937. Can you see any similarities between Nicholson’s painting and this one by Piet Mondrian?
Until the Second World War many people thought Nicholson’s paintings were outrageous and he struggled to make a living from selling them. In 1940 he moved to St Ives in Cornwall where he studied the subtle colours of the landscape. He began to find his own style that reflected the greys, browns and greens of the countryside. Other artists who were also interested in abstract art also moved to St Ives, and soon there were many artists living in the little fishing village and they became known as the St Ives Group.
Do you see the boats in this image? I wonder where he painted this? Why do you think he put the jugs and cups in the front of the painting?
Nicholson died in 1982 and by then he was considered to be one of Britain’s finest artists who had introduced many new and exciting ideas about Modern art to Britain!
What do you think of this work? Does it remind you of other artworks? How does his work make you feel?
Let us know in the comments below.
You can see some of Ben Nicholson’s work in the new Barbara Hepworth exhibition at Tate Britain now!