White Relief


Ben Nicholson ( British, 1894 - 1982 )

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General Description

1936 (white relief) is a quintessentially abstract sculpture in which light and shadow animate a pure white surface carved with geometric forms. A pioneer of British modernism, Ben Nicholson made his first abstract reliefs in 1933. He had been to Paris in 1932–33 and visited the studios of Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, and Piet Mondrian. These excursions induced Nicholson to reorient his art toward nonfigurative themes, but he maintained a free attitude toward abstraction and figuration, moving back and forth from one to the other.

Adapted from

Bonnie Pitman, ed., Dallas Museum of Art: A Guide to the Collection (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012), 283.

Fun Facts

  • The high value Nicholson placed on light as a component of his work is demonstrated by his written instruction on the upper right corner of the reverse of this piece: "When exhibiting this relief it should have a strong side or top light—at night it can be flood lit. B.N."