In the introduction to the 1967 exhibition catalogue, Geoffrey Grigson writes, 'New. Severe. Curved forms have been creeping into the reliefs of 1967, long and narrow, rather as if Nicholson had taken straight sides by the two ends and bent them, against their spring, either downwards or upwards: remove the pressure and the forms might jump back to straightness. Lengthways the shapes tend against each other, outwards, inwards, are then checked and held. Browns and blues are held apart by grey, the brown patches having a particular quality and intensity of revelation, coming forward, and checked - tension again - by the greys which spread but stay where they are put, and the blues which recede and pull back. A new severity (and serenity), complex in contrivance, simple in effect'.
The artist's carved reliefs of this period are further discussed by Peter Khoroche, 'Many of Nicholson's late reliefs have place-names in their titles: Racciano, Kos, Obidos, Malta, Carnac, Aegina, Amboise. Sometimes the allusion is obvious, as in White relief, Paros but more often it is not. He added these name-tags only after completing each work and the connection between the two, whether close or distant, was always highly personal, even at times frivolous. The reliefs are rarely straightforward evocations of a place: they are not so much landscapes as mindscapes. Above all, they are objects whose colour, form and texture are to be appreciated for themselves and for what they suggest to each individual viewer. They are a means of conveying an experience or an awareness, not the representation of something. Obviously this requires a special sort of aesthetic contemplation in the spectator who, if properly attuned, will enter into Nicholson's idea and so share with him a highly-charged piece living reality. Just as for Nicholson it was a question of finding and recognizing the right mood before he could start on a drawing, or of going deeper and deeper into his subconscious as he scraped and painted and rubbed and scoured the bone-hard hardboard of his late reliefs, so we who contemplate the finished work must do so with sympathetic sensitivity, opening up our own memory-store to meet it halfway' (see P. Khoroche, exhibition catalogue, Ben Nicholson 'chasing out something alive' drawings and painted reliefs 1950-75, Cambridge, Kettles Yard, 2002, p. 38).
The vertical format of 67 (Locmariaquer 4) may recall the standing stones at Carnac and the Neolithic sites at Locmariaquer - both in Brittany. Nicholson first visited Brittany in 1949 and returned in 1965 with Felicitas Vogler who he had married in 1957 and they were fascinated by the Megalithic stones that they encountered. 'Brittany has a lasting impact on his reliefs, especially the dolmens and menhirs which he first saw in 1949, and which complemented his knowledge of the megaliths of Cornwall ... He conveyed his enthusiasm for Brittany when he wrote to Herbert Read in 1963: 'Have you ever been to Carnac & Morbihan? a most strange and beautiful place - feels like some spot at the end of the world & with stone circles under water in the bay & [dolmens] above water & leaden steeple to the church a marvellous form ... One gets there a tremendous feeling one never gets in the USA of tremendous events having happened in the past & as if the shape of land has been made by events'. This feeling that had been imparted to Nicholson was precisely the feeling he intended to arouse in the spectator; the notions of history, the determining effect of time and the inseperableness of time and place' (see J. Lewison, exhibition catalogue, Ben Nicholson, London, Tate Gallery, 1993, p. 91).
A work titled March 1965 (Locmariaquer) of the same dimensions as the present work is in the collection of the Museo de Artes Moderna, Buenos Aires (see J. Russell (intro.), Ben Nicholson, London, 1969, p. 27).
Helen and David Pall were great enthusiasts of American and European Modern works of art. What began as a way to spend time together quickly blossomed into a passion for collecting. Dr and Mrs Pall exhibited a lifelong interest in educating themselves about American and European Modern works of art and their collection was a wonderful reflection of their passion. Christie's held a series of successful sales of masterpieces from their collection in New York and London in 2005.