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abstract design 1934,

In the early 1930s Ben Nicholson’s interest in printmaking was generally of an informal and experimental nature In the early 1930s Ben Nicholson’s interest in printmaking was generally of an informal and experimental nature, a fact highlighted by his haphazard recordkeeping. abstract design 1934 was his only woodcut, and his first print to be editioned. It shows Nicholson engaging with a new abstract language, which anticipates the tight geometry of the reliefs of the mid-1930s.

There are two impressions of abstract design 1934 at Kettle’s Yard, both proofs in preparation for the numbered edition. Their comparison offers a useful glimpse into the standards in Nicholson’s printmaking. The more visible difference between is in the inking. Some of the details are lost in the more heavily inked version, giving the other a stronger emphasis on texture and pattern.

Print [BN 40]


Linocut on paper

170 x 210 mm

About the artist

Ben Nicholson was the son of the painter William Nicholson. After marrying Winifred Roberts, during the 1920s he travelled widely and lived with her between Cumberland, London, Paris and Switzerland. Following a period experimenting with a post-Cézanne manner, Nicholson developed a consciously 'primitive' landscape style in 1927, further encouraged by his encounter with the art of Alfred Wallis. Between 1931 and 1939 he lived in London in close proximity to many artists and critics such as Moore, Piper, Martin, Ede and Herbert Read. He met Arp, Brancusi, and later Mondrian, Gabo and Jean Hélion. The influence of these artists led him to develop a highly abstract style of the late 1930s, for which he is most famous. In 1931 he met Barbara Hepworth, who would become his second wife. He returned to St. Ives during the war with Hepworth, Gabo and Stokes and established an international reputation in the 1950s and 60s. After the war he lived at various times in London, Cambridge and Switzerland and married a third time to Felicitas Vogler.