BEN NICHOLSON, O.M. (1894-1982)
BEN NICHOLSON, O.M. (1894-1982)
BEN NICHOLSON, O.M. (1894-1982)
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BEN NICHOLSON, O.M. (1894-1982)

(1965) Olympia

Details
BEN NICHOLSON, O.M. (1894-1982)
(1965) Olympia
signed 'Nicholson' (on the reverse of the sheet), signed again and dated 'NICHOLSON 1965' (on the backboard)
ink and oil wash on paper
22 3⁄4 x 19 3⁄4 in. (57.8 x 50 cm.), shaped
Executed in 1965.
Provenance
Purchased by the Ford Foundation at the 1966 exhibition.
Their sale; Christie's, London, 24 November 2017, lot 67, where purchased by the present owner.
Literature
Exhibition catalogue, Ben Nicholson: Recent Work, Zürich, galerie Gimpel & Hanover, 1966, n.p., no. 42, illustrated.
Exhibited
Zürich, Galerie Gimpel & Hanover, Ben Nicholson: Recent Work, June - July 1966, no. 42.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Elizabeth Comba
Elizabeth Comba Specialist

Lot Essay

When Ben Nicholson executed Olympia (1965), he was enjoying increasing prominence as a major international artist. A string of exhibitions and prizes throughout the previous decade had established his reputation further afield, and he was now living and working at the heart of Europe, having moved to the shores of Lake Maggiore in 1958 with his third wife, the photographer Felicitas Vogler. From here, they made frequent trips across the continent- touring Italy, Greece, Turkey and Portugal - and the places they visited appear in the subtitles of many works from this time.

The present work refers to the ancient ruins at Olympia in Greece where Nicholson returned on numerous occasions throughout the 1960s. The artist has depicted the architectural forms and fragments of the ruins as he did still-lifes; overlapping shapes and shifting perspective, finding abstracted forms within recognisable motifs. He would prepare the paper in his studio beforehand, with thinned oil washes, and then cut it into irregular, asymmetrical shapes. Nicholson routinely used this device of shaped paper in this period, and in the present work it is visually playful, distorting perspective and space in tandem with the line drawing. The drawing is distilled and selective, and with remarkably few lines, Nicholson builds a highly experimental study of space, form and light. Vogler described Nicholson’s work as ‘distinguished from a very early stage by clarity and the great art of omission' (F. Vogler in M. de Sausmarez (ed.), Ben Nicholson: a Studio International Special, London, 1969, p. 21).

We are very grateful to Rachel Smith and Lee Beard for their assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.

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