Ben Nicholson was a British abstract artist. Nicholson was born in 1894, the son of William Nicholson, the successful Edwardian painter of still life and portraiture. He studied at the Slade between 1910 and 1911, later commenting that he had learnt more at the billiard table of the Gower Street Hotel than in lessons. In 1922 Nicholson had his first one-man exhibition at the Adelphi Gallery in London. Throughout the 20s he painted landscapes and still life 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, often 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 a first prize at the Sao Paulo Biennale followed. In 1968 he was awarded the Order of Merit from Queen Elizabeth II, and in '69 had another major retrospective at the Tate. His reputation continued to grow, with major exhibitions in Japan and in the USA. Nicholson died in 1982 in London.