The Artist Given by BN to Sir Leslie Martin in September 1959 Kit Nicholson
Nicholson’s still life images of the 1940’s and the 1950’s are the perfect synthesis of an interest in the object for its own qualities, inevitable for someone with Sir William Nicholson as father, and the formal arrangement of planes which he derived from his involvement in the abstraction of the modern movement in the inter-war years. They are also the kind of image which really established his international reputation.
Utilising his complete mastery of the drawn line, Nicholson was able to extract from the simplest and most everyday forms their essence as a design element and by combining this with the simplicity of abstracted geometric shapes and plain gessoed supports, create images which are both profound and timeless commentaries on the tradition of still life and yet which never let the viewer stray far from the acknowledgement of the concept of the work of art as an object.
By the early 1950’s, colour was beginning to play a much less crucial role in Nicholson’s art as the paintings regained the aesthetic purity of the earlier abstracts. However, the combination of this purity with the hinted forms of goblets, glasses and table top give us works which remain instantly recognizable and readable but infinitely complex.
This work, small in scale and yet large in intention and design, is just such an archetypical piece.