Art: Landscape on a Tabletop

In Washington, D.C., a major retrospective for Ben Nicholson

Some artists so possess their landscape that the real place, visited for the first time, can look like a replica of their work. France is full of examples—the banks of the Seine seen as a Monet, the imprint of Cézanne on the red earth and twisted roots of the Midi, the Matisses latent in every curlicued balcony in Nice. In the same way, Cornwall is Ben Nicholson's territory. Insistently, and often without depicting landscape at all, his paintings have altered several generations of responses to that green ledge of land, shelved with granite...

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