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This is the first abstract Ben Nicholson painted and is one of only a few such works made by British artists in this period. Younger, avant-garde artists tended to concentrate on still life and landscape in the twenties using them as vehicles for formal experiment. Only three early abstract paintings by Nicholson are known and all of them display evidence of a sophiscated understanding of Cubism and its insistence on shallow space and overlapping planes. This painting was very advanced in the context of British art in this period, where the notion of abstraction was essentially equated with the distortion of natural appearance.

August 2004