Ben Nicholson, O.M. (1894-1982)
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Ben Nicholson, O.M. (1894-1982)

August 64 (stone relief Valle Verzasca)

Ben Nicholson, O.M. (1894-1982)
August 64 (stone relief Valle Verzasca)
signed, inscribed and dated 'Ben Nicholson/aug 64/(stone relief, valle verzasca)' (on the reverse)
oil and relief on carved hardboard
26¾ x 24¾ in. (68 x 63 cm.)
Painted in 1964.
with Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York.
New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery and Andre Emmerich Gallery, Ben Nicholson 1955-1965, April 1965, no. 85.
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Lot Essay

Nicholson and his wife Felicitas Vogler moved from St Ives to Ticino in Southern Switzerland in 1958, where they built a house high up above Lake Maggiore. This location and the mountainous landscape greatly impressed Nicholson, and seemed to occasion a change in his work. He re-introduced relief carving into his paintings, often working on monumental scale. The texture of Nicholson's works at this time are complex, with areas of scraped down oil and variations in the layers of the paint. As the title suggests, this seems to be a reference to the weathered stones of Southern Switzerland, and the colours, often tonal and muted, are evocative of that landscape. Nicholson stated,

'In a painting it should be impossible to separate form from colour or colour from form as it is to separate wood from wood-colour or stone-colour from stone. Colour exists not as applied paint but as the inner core of an idea and this idea cannot be touched physically any more than one can touch the blue of a summer sky' (see J. Lewison, Ben Nicholson, Oxford, 1991, p. 22).

Valle Verzascka is a river valley in Ticino and the Verzascka river flows into Lake Maggiore. This dramatic and expansive landscape is suggested by the angles and planes of the relief forms in this painting. Painted in the same month as this work is another work called August 1964 (Racciano), in the collection of the British Council.

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