Monday, 19 November 2012

Life Immitates Art

I found myself in one of those strange, slightly surreal situations the other day, where everywhere you look, you see a painting.  You know the feeling, you stroll into a diner and are transported to an Edward Hopper painting, you gaze across a glassy, blue swimming pool and it's a David Hockney print, you glance your best friend from a new angle and suddenly she's Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring.

This time, in an everyday little church hall, everywhere I looked was a Ben Nicholson painting.  As I looked and photographed, I was simultaneously transported back in time to a school trip to the Tate Modern in London and a family holiday to St. Ives. 

Ben Nicholson was a 20th century British artist who lived and worked in London and Cornwall, and knew other British artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.  He traveled extensively to Paris and was influenced by the work of Picasso, Braque and Mondrian, among others.  Nicholson was part of the British Modernist movement, who sought a clean, undecorated ideal in both their art and in life.

The stripped back aesthetic, and the exploration of colour and composition is part of what captivates me about modernist art.  There is beauty in the simplicity, and honesty in the lack of ornament.  But it is not without charm and appeal, it has not lost the element of art and become completely functional.  It searches still for truth and beauty.

Ben Nicholson OM, ‘1939-44 (painted relief)’ 1939-44

1939-44 (painted relief); 1939-44

Ben Nicholson OM, ‘1934 project for Massine for Beethoven 7th Symphony Ballet’ 1934

1934 project for Massine for Beethoven 7th Symphony Ballet; 1934

Ben Nicholson OM, ‘June 1937 (painting)’ 1937

June 1937 (painting); 1937

Ben Nicholson OM, ‘Festival of Britain Mural’ 1951

Festival of Britain Mural; 1951

Images of artwork from the Tate Website, with thanks.

Keep your eyes open and you might find art anywhere you look.

A x

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