Ben Nicholson (1894-1982) is one of the best-known artists of the St Ives School. Born in London and educated at the Slade School of Fine Art, Nicholson first visited St Ives in 1928, where he met local painter Alfred Wallis.
Shortly before the Second World War, Nicholson, who had travelled extensively, met Picasso, and been heavily influenced by European trends such as Cubism, moved to St Ives with his second wife, sculptor Barbara Hepworth. With three children to support Nicholson abandoned the white-on-white abstract paintings for which he is best known in favour of more saleable, though still abstract, landscapes, many of which feature St Ives.
Nicholson spent nineteen of the most productive years of his life living in St Ives and painting in Porthmeor Studios, which back right onto Porthmeor Beach and are still used by local artists today. In fact, the very studio in which Nicholson worked, number five, is now used by Tate St Ives for their residency program, which gives budding local talent a space to develop.
Some of Ben Nicholson's paintings can still be seen at Tate Britain and Tate St Ives, which recently played host to the first major exhibition of his work in the UK for fourteen years.