Ben Nicholson was a British abstract artist. Nicholson was born in 1894 to William Nicholson, the successful Edwardian painter of still life and portraiture. He studied at the Slade School of Fine Art between 1910 and 1911 though later commented that he learned more at the billiard table of the Gower Hotel than in his Slade lessons. In 1922, Nicholson had his first one-man exhibition at the Adelphi Gallery in London. Throughout the 1920s, he painted landscapes and still lifes in a primitive style in reaction to his father's slick and sophisticated manner. In the 1930s, he first spent time in Paris, where he made himself known to the greats of the avant-garde. It was during the 1950s that Nicholson achieved real fame as he began using rubbed down surfaces or working on aged wood panels. After being commissioned to make a mural for the Festival of Britain in 1951, he had his first retrospective outside Britain at the Venice Biennale. Retrospectives at the Tate and the international prize for painting at the São Paulo Biennial followed. In 1968, he was awarded the Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth II and in 1969 had another major retrospective at the Tate. His reputation continued to grow, with major exhibitions in Japan and in the United States. Nicholson died in 1982 in London.