Benjamin Lauder Nicholson OM, (10 April 1894 – 6 February 1982), known as Ben Nicholson, was an English abstract painter
Born at Denham, Buckinghamshire, Nicholson was the son of the painter Sir William Nicholson and the brother of Nancy Nicholson. The family moved to London in 1896 and Nicholson was educated as a boarder at Gresham's School, Holt, Norfolk.
He travelled to New York in 1917 for an operation on his tonsils, then visited other American cities, returning to England in 1918. From 1920 to 1933 he was married to the painter Winifred Nicholson and lived in London. After his first exhibition of figurative works in London in 1922, his work began to be influenced by Synthetic Cubism, and later by the primitive style of Rousseau. In London, Nicholson met the sculptors Barbara Hepworth (to whom he was married from 1933 to 1951) and Henry Moore. On visits to Paris he met Mondrian, whose work in the neoplastic style was to influence him in an abstract direction, and Picasso, whose cubism would also find its way into his work. His gift, however, was the ability to incorporate these European trends into a new style that was recognizably his own. He first visited St Ives, Cornwall in 1928 with his fellow painter Christopher Wood, where he met the fisherman and painter, Alfred Wallis. In Paris in 1933 he made his first wood relief, White Relief, which contained only right angles and circles. In 1937 he was one of the editors of Circle, an influential monograph on constructivism. He believed that abstract art should be enjoyed by the general public, as shown by the Nicholson Wall, a mural he created for the garden of Sutton Place in Guildford, Surrey. In 1943 he joined the St. Ives Society of Artists. A retrospective exhibition of his work was shown at the Tate Gallery in London in 1955.
Nicholson married the photographer Felicitas Vogler in 1957 and moved to Castagnola, Switzerland, in 1958. In 1968 he received the British Order of Merit (OM). In 1971 he separated from Vogler and moved to Cambridge. In 1977 he divorced. He died in London and was cremated at Golders Green cemetery.
Some of Nicholson's works can be seen at the Tate St Ives gallery, and at Kettle's Yard Art Gallery in Cambridge.