Paul Kasmin Gallery is pleased to announce our upcoming exhibition of paintings by William Nicholson from February 16 to March 25, 2006. Comprised of some twenty works, it will be the first comprehensive show of this 20th-century English painter outside of his homeland.
William Nicholson may be most identifiable to Americans as the father of the British modernist Ben Nicholson. But William was a considerable artist in his own right – as his retrospective last year at the Royal Academy, in London, made clear.
Nicholson (1872 – 1949) is best known in Britain for his still lifes, which have been compared with Morandi. In an almost fifty-year-long career, however, there were few kinds of work he didn't attempt. As a young man, in the 1890s, he was a remarkable, and internationally recognized, woodcut maker, and he went on, at different times in his life, to design for the theater, collaborate on projects with poets, and create children's books.
Although he supported his family as a portraitist in oils, Nicholson was an essentially experimental artist. His brilliantly lit still lifes have a striking informality. He developed a kind of pared-down landscape that often presents a deep, measureless space. He was an original painter of people in social settings and of buildings.
Nicholson the painter is probably little known outside Britain because his representational style seemingly has no connection to the upheavals of late-19th-century and 20th-century art. Yet his color and brushwork remain fresh and surprising. His conceptions of still life as a "close up," of landscape as a "long shot," and of portraiture as a way to de-emphasize personality are probably more compelling to viewers now than they were at the time.
This exhibition gives a taste of the strengths and themes of a huge, complex, and subtle body of work – one long overdue for international recognition.