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Ben Nicholson was, with his second wife Barbara Hepworth, a leading figure in the international modern movement in Britain. With artists in continental Europe and North America such as Mondrian, Moholy-Nagy and Calder they worked together to achieve and promote an art that was abstract, synthesised with architecture and design. In defiance of the increasingly antagonistic nationalism engulfing Europe, position was explicitly internationalist and utopian. The compositional quietude of Nicholson’s white reliefs provided an aesthetic model for a possible social harmony.

September 2016