Ben Nicholson may have connected Picasso’s Cubist period with their coded images of their lovers, but he was even more taken with the abstraction of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, as a small show at the Courtauld (until 20 May) reveals. Mondrian║Nicholson: In Parallel looks at their friendship during the unsettled decade before the war. They met in Paris when Nicholson was a rising star of modern British art, and twenty years his senior, Mondrian was well-established. The serenity of their work contrasts with the turbulence of the era, which they tried to counter with their art. Although always two artists exploring their own creativity, at times their work follows a similar visual vocabulary, such as the blocks of lines and colour which Nicholson used centrally and Mondrian on the edge of a canvas. By the time the war drove Mondrian to New York and his friend to St Ives those intersecting lines had parted, but their work forms a tranquil oasis in the chaos of war.
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