Ben Nicholson OM

Feb 1960 (ice-off-blue)


Not on display

Ben Nicholson OM 1894–1982
Oil paint on board
Object: 1219 × 1829 mm
frame: 1288 × 1899 × 85 mm
Purchased 1962

Display caption

In this work Nicholson suggests depth and overlapping planes in a more complex way than in his pre-war abstract reliefs, carving into the hardboard and working colour into the surface during the carving process, to give a subtle differentiation of tone and texture. In 1958 Nicholson moved from Cornwall to the Ticino in Switzerland and his work expanded in scale and showed a greater freedom of colour and texture, perhaps in response to the grandeur of the landscape which he described as 'entirely magical with the kind of visual poetry I would like to find in my paintings.'

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

T00557 FEB. 1960 (ICE-OFF-BLUE) 1960

Inscr. on back, ‘Ben Nicholson Feb 1960 (off-ice-blue)’.
Oil on masonite, carved in relief, 48×72 (122×183).
Purchased from Gimpel Fils (Grant-in-Aid) 1962.
Coll: Gimpel Fils; André Emmerich Gallery, New York; Gimpel Fils.
Exh: Gimpel Fils, July 1960 (21, repr. in colour on cover); André Emmerich Gallery, New York, April–May 1961 (1, repr. in colour); International Exhibition, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, October 1961–January 1962 (290, repr.).
Repr: Metro, No.1, December 1960, pp.32–3.

The change in the title was made by the artist (letter of 23 January 1963).

In this work a suggestion of overlapping planes is achieved by much subtler differentiations of depth than in the artist's earlier reliefs such as ‘white relief 1935’ (T00049); this is also helped by variations in colour and texture. The artist developed this new idea of the painted relief in the late 1950s.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II

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