Ben Nicholson

1939 (composition)

1939 (composition) by Ben Nicholson

Artwork Detail

Ben Nicholson responded to the way modernism valued strength of expression – the way colour and form could ‘stand for’ an object – rather than describing it realistically. Like many modernists, he believed you could find truth and freshness in the way a painting was constructed. He began making white reliefs in the 1920s, overlaying geometric shapes and carving into surfaces, which led on to his exploration of pure planes of colour. His initial response to Piet Mondrian’s use of colour was sensory, but when the latter stayed with Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth in London in 1938, he provided the stimulus for the harmonious formal qualities of works such as '1939 (Composition)'.

1939 (composition)
Ben Nicholson
Production date
oil on canvas
560 x 711 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Thanksgiving Foundation, 2023
Accession no
Other ID
L2008/5 Old Accession Number
Copying restrictions apply
International Art
Display status
On display

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