After a tutorials with both Pete and Natasha (25th Feb), they both suggested I looked at Barbara Hepworth’s and Ben Nicholson’s work…
Ben Nicholson’s earlier work involved still life paintings and then in the twenties he began to create abstract and figurative paintings. These were inspired by the cubist movement and post impressionism.
The latter was a movement which followed on from impressionism; Obviously the fist artist which comes to mind when I think of impressionism if of course, Monet. The whole idea of this movement was to paint one’s impression of what one saw with short brush strokes of broken colour. Monet’s paintings do really capture the light of the moment and the colours it bought out, and the reflections too! Post Impressionism also focused on opticality, but the topic of the paintings could have been about emotions or memories, not purely the observed world.
Cubism was considered to be the first form of abstract art, meaning that it was more subjective than objective. The idea was that instead of observing the subject of painting from one view point, it was looked at from several perspectives. one important factor which distinguishes this movement from others is that artists would represent what the mind imagined, not what the eyes saw. This often evolved lots of simple shapes, such as squares and circles, a recurring motif in a lot of Nicholson’s work.
The work I’m particularly drawn to by Nicholson are his abstract reliefs of geometric shapes. These are completely non-objective. But what do they bring to the observer? White Relief is one of Nicholson’s two known scultures. Interestingly he made this whilst he was sharing a studio with Hepworth (who he was married to in the years 1938-1951) . No doubt her sculptures had an influence on his artwork during that period.
A graduate of Sculpture from Leeds School of Art, Hepworth pursued an abstract path, honing in on the very materiality of the sculpture and the space around it; working with a range of materials from wood to marble. With influences from Constructivism ; Hepworth’s art is all about the composition of the elements of her sculptures harmonising straight lines with spherical shapes. A brilliant example was when admiring her work at the Tate Modern, particularly “Ball, Plane and Hole” in which a wooden ball is placed just near a circle cut out of a piece of wood, as if it is going to be pushed through, oh how I wanted to touch it! It kind of reminded me of a racket and ball, as the ball is also placed on a narrow chunk of wood. Her work is very satisfying to look at and has a peaceful affect on the viewer. Interestingly, she was commissioned to create a sculpture symbolising peace for the United Nations in 1961.