DVDs & CDs
View All Titles
Arts and Literature
Art and Sculpture
Winifred Nicholson - Liberation of Colour
Winifred Nicholson - Liberation of Colour
This new publication explores the whole career of Winifred Nicholson with a special emphasis on her theories of colour. Using specific paintings to examine her ideas and writings about colour the book includes her late 'prismatic' pictures which have never been properly explained.
Throughout her life Winifred Nicholson was interested in prisms and rainbows, but when she was given some prisms by a physicist friend in the mid 1970s her painting took on a new direction. Looking through a prism she saw objects with a rim of prismatic colour, and explored and developed these ideas, often painting pictures that verged on the abstract. Nicholson's 'prismatic' pictures were a culmination of her life's search to find "form's secret and rhythmic law". She painted them in Greece in 1979, at her home in Cumbria, and during her last painting trip to the Island of Eigg in the Hebrides in 1980, where she had an inspired period of painting and made some of her best loved pictures.Published on the occasion of the exhibition 'Liberation of Colour' at mima, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern art, the book illustrates many previously unseen paintings from private collections, as well as some of Nicholson's best known works, and draws on new research, including previously unseen archival material.
Philip Wilson Publishers
Paperback; 280 x 235mm
Colour illustrations throughout
Please phone for more details.
Book review by Steve Matthews of Bookends.
Ben Nicholson; Winifred Nicholson; Christopher Wood; Alfred Wallis; William Staite Murray: Art and Life 1920 -1931 by Jovan Nicholson. PWP £35
"A grey farmstead, a little house built out of the Roman Wall stones, a byre and a barn on the line of the Roman Wall overlooking the great valley of the Irthing river and over towards the blue-grey fells." The farmstead was Bankshead, near Lanercost, and,in the 1920s, this isolated house was at the forefront of British art. Winifred Nicholson and her husband, Ben, bought the house in 1923. Paul Nash and Ivon Hitchens were regular visitors.
In 1928 Christopher Wood, came to stay. "His arrival was like a meteor . . . We all three painted and nothing else." The visit, which lasted only a month, was important for all three. Wood brought with him an intensity and excitement which transmitted itself to the work of both Ben and Winifred.. And Christopher Wood learnt to simplify his pictures. His painting of Hare Hill is alive with rounded hills and exuberant trees in dark, heavy wet colours. It is a Border landscape under a Border sky. Ben Nicholson's painting of the same subject is quieter, with muted versions of similarly drab colours. The shapes are different, but the landscape is equally alive.
Winifred's picture of Northrigg Hill, a wide panorama across the fields towards the slate-blue of the Scottish hills, had been painted two years before. She felt: "The earth of Cumberland is my earth, way back to the Medieval, to the Roman times, the Celtic, bronze age time. I have always lived in Cumberland - the call of the curlew is my call, the tremble of the harebell is my tremble in life, the blue mist of lonely fells is my mystery, and the silver gleam when the sun does come out is my pathway."
Ben painted the same farm - the building abstracted to a child's block house and the fields strong shapes of brown and orange and the sky grey with two cotton-wool clouds. Christopher Wood's painting of the same farm has none of this austerity, but shows the farm in a wind-blown landscape, the whole vibrant with life.
Ben painted Walton Wood Cottage, a white house to the side of two luminous squares of fields bisected by the trunk of a fir-tree. He sent a photograph to Christopher in Paris who saw in it "the most delightful feeling of early morning mist and sunshine". The house became the background to a vase of flowers, perhaps painted with Winifred in mind. She loved painting flowers. "My paint brush always gives a tremor of pleasure when I let it paint a flower. Flowers mean different things to different people . . . to me they are the secret of the cosmos." When you see her painting of Bankshead Flowers in an Alabaster Jar you understand what she meant.
The Nicholsons joined Wood in Cornwall and they all admired and learned from the simplicity of the naive paintings of Alfred Wallis.
Christopher Wood died in 1930. Ben Nicholson left Winifred and their three children the following year. Those years in which the three of them worked so intensely together, shaped their art. The landscape of Cumberland was a formative component in their artistic vision.
Jovan Nicholson is the grandson of Ben and Winifred Nicholson. He brings a very particular understanding to one of the most intense and formative collaborations in British art. Other essays by Sebastiano Barassi and Julian Stair treat of the Nicholson's life in Europe and the associated work of the potter, William Staite Murray.
Above everything, the living portraits of the Border landscape by all three artists make this a very special book.
DVDs & CDs