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Artists Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian Photo

Piet Mondrian

Dutch Painter

Movements and Styles: De Stijl, Neo-Plasticism

Born: March 7, 1872 - Amersfoort, The Netherlands

Died: February 1, 1944 - New York, New York

Piet Mondrian Timeline

Quotes

"The emotion of beauty is always obscured by the appearance of the object. Therefore, the object must be eliminated from the picture."
Piet Mondrian
"To approach the spiritual in art, one will make as little use as possible of reality, because reality is opposed to the spiritual."
Piet Mondrian
"The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel."
Piet Mondrian
"I don't want pictures, I want to find things out."
Piet Mondrian
"Even where the elements are perfectly regular, the order of the whole may be extremely elisuve. The precise grid of black lines in a painting by Mondrian, so firmly ordered, is an open and unpredictable whole without symmetry or commensurable parts. The example of his austere art has educated a younger generation in the force and niceties of variation with the minimum of elements."
Meyer Schapiro

"I wish to approach truth as closely as is possible, and therefore I abstract everything until I arrive at the fundamental quality of objects."

Piet Mondrian Signature

Synopsis

Piet Mondrian, one of the founders of the Dutch modern movement De Stijl, is recognized for the purity of his abstractions and methodical practice by which he arrived at them. He radically simplified the elements of his paintings to reflect what he saw as the spiritual order underlying the visible world, creating a clear, universal aesthetic language within his canvases. In his best known paintings from the 1920s, Mondrian reduced his shapes to lines and rectangles and his palette to fundamental basics pushing past references to the outside world toward pure abstraction. His use of asymmetrical balance and a simplified pictorial vocabulary were crucial in the development of modern art, and his iconic abstract works remain influential in design and familiar in popular culture to this day.

Key Ideas

A theorist and writer, Mondrian believed that art reflected the underlying spirituality of nature. He simplified the subjects of his paintings down to the most basic elements, in order to reveal the essence of the mystical energy in the balance of forces that governed nature and the universe.
Mondrian chose to distill his representations of the world to their basic vertical and horizontal elements, which represented the two essential opposing forces: the positive and the negative, the dynamic and the static, the masculine and the feminine. The dynamic balance of his compositions reflect what he saw as the universal balance of these forces.
Mondrian's singular vision for modern art is clearly demonstrated in the methodical progression of his artistic style from traditional representation to complete abstraction. His paintings evolve in a logical manner, and clearly convey the influence of various modern art movements such as Luminism, Impressionism, and most importantly, Cubism.
Mondrian, and the artists of De Stijl, advocated pure abstraction and a pared down palette in order to express a utopian ideal of universal harmony in all of the arts. By using basic forms and colors, Mondrian believed that his vision of modern art would transcend divisions in culture and become a new common language based in the pure primary colors, flatness of forms, and dynamic tension in his canvases.
Mondrian's development of Neo-Plasticism became one of the key documents of abstract art. In the movement he detailed his vision of artistic expression in which "plasticism" referred to the action of forms and colors on the surface of the canvas as a new method for representing modern reality.

Biography

Piet Mondrian Photo

Childhood

Piet Mondrian, born Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan, Jr. grew up as the second of five children in a devoutly Calvinist home in central Holland. Art and music were encouraged in his household. His father, the headmaster of the local primary school, was an enthusiastic amateur artist who gave drawing lessons to his son, while Mondrian's uncle, Fritz Mondriaan, was an accomplished artist who taught his nephew to paint.

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Piet Mondrian Biography Continues

Important Art by Piet Mondrian

The below artworks are the most important by Piet Mondrian - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

The Gray Tree (1912)

The Gray Tree (1912)

Artwork description & Analysis: The Gray Tree exemplifies Mondrian's early transition toward abstraction, and his application of Cubist principles to represent the landscape. The three-dimensional tree has been reduced to lines and planes using a limited palette of grays and black. This painting is one in a series of works Mondrian created, in which the early trees are naturalistically represented, while the later works have become progressively more abstract. In the later paintings, the lines of the tree are reduced until the form of the tree is barely discernable and becomes secondary to the overall composition of vertical and horizontal lines. Here, there is still an allusion to the tree as it appears in nature, but one can already see Mondrian's interest in reducing the form to a structured organization of lines. This step was invaluable to Mondrian's development of his mature style of pure abstraction.

Oil on canvas - Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

Pier and Ocean (Composition No. 10) (1915)

Pier and Ocean (Composition No. 10) (1915)

Artwork description & Analysis: Pier and Ocean marks a definitive step in Mondrian's path toward pure abstraction. Here he has eliminated diagonal and curved lines as well as color; the only true reference to nature is found within the title and the horizontal lines that allude to the horizon and the verticals that evoke the pilings of the pier. The rhythms created by the alternating lines and their varying lengths presages Mondrian's mature dynamic, depicting an asymmetrical balance as well as the pulse of the ocean waves. Reviewing this work, Theo van Doesburg wrote: "Spiritually, this work is more important than the others. It conveys the impression of peace; the stillness of the soul." Mondrian had begun to translate what he saw as the underlying ordered patterns of nature into a pure abstract language.

Oil on canvas - State Museum Kroller-Muller, Otterlo

Composition with Color Planes (1917)

Composition with Color Planes (1917)

Artwork description & Analysis: While still in Holland during World War I, Mondrian helped found the group of artists and architects called De Stijl, and it was during this period he refined his style of abstraction even further. Composition with Color Planes shows his break with Analytic Cubism and exemplifies the principles he expressed in his essay "The New Plastic in Painting." Here, Mondrian has moved away from the Cubist palette of ochres, grays, and browns, opting instead for muted reds, yellows and blues - a clear precursor to his mature palette that focused on primary colors. The blocks of color float on a white ground and no longer reference a physical object in nature such as a tree or building, while all reference to illusionistic depth has been eliminated. The composition is based on color and balance and gives even weight to all areas of the picture surface, moving toward the precise balance of his mature canvases.

Oil on canvas - Museum of Modern Art, New York

More Piet Mondrian Artwork and Analysis:

Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray, and Blue (1921) Tableau I: Lozenge with Four Lines and Gray (1926) Broadway Boogie-Woogie (1942-43)


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Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Piet Mondrian
Interactive chart with Piet Mondrian's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Vincent van GoghVincent van Gogh
Paul CézannePaul Cézanne
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Jan TooropJan Toorop

Personal Contacts

Theo van DoesburgTheo van Doesburg
Bart van der LeckBart van der Leck

Movements

CubismCubism
ImpressionismImpressionism
FauvismFauvism
LuminismLuminism

Influences on Artist
Piet Mondrian
Piet Mondrian
Years Worked: 1895 - 1944
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Ilya BolotowskyIlya Bolotowsky
Leon Polk SmithLeon Polk Smith
Ad ReinhardtAd Reinhardt

Personal Contacts

Theo van DoesburgTheo van Doesburg
Bart van der LeckBart van der Leck
Peggy GuggenheimPeggy Guggenheim

Movements

De StijlDe Stijl
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism
Color Field PaintingColor Field Painting
MinimalismMinimalism

Useful Resources on Piet Mondrian

Videos

Special Features

Books

Websites

Articles

More

Documentaries:

Piet Mondrian: Mister Boogie Woogie Man ► 0:00 Piet Mondrian: Mister Boogie Woogie Man

Mondrian moves to Paris and creates new art. Includes commentary by Robert Hughes
views

Artists of the 20<sup>th</sup> Century: Piet Mondrian ► 55:17 Artists of the 20th Century: Piet Mondrian

Longer video exploring pregression of Mondrian's art
45k views

Art History Videos:

Mondrian at Tate Liverpool and Turner Contemporary ► 4:34 Mondrian at Tate Liverpool and Turner Contemporary

Art Historian Rosie Rockel describes Mondrian's artistic development
86k views

"Victory Boogie Woogie" at The Getty Conservation Institute ► 54:56 "Victory Boogie Woogie" at The Getty Conservation Institute

Detailed and technical video. Discussion by expert historians
13k views

More Interesting Videos with Piet Mondrian

artist features

Mark Rothko and Piet Mondrian

Explained on Art Story Image Comparison Tool

The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing of this page. These also suggest some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet.

biography

Piet Mondrian: 1872-1944; Structures in Space Recomended resource

By Susanne Deicher

Mondrian Recomended resource

By Hans L. C. Jaffe, Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian: Color, Structure And Symbolism

By Hans Locher, Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian: 1872-1944

By Yve-Alain Bois, Angelica Zander Rudenstine, Joop Joosten, Hans Janssen

More Interesting Books about Piet Mondrian
Gemeentemuseum Website Recomended resource

The museum is launching a major exhibition to commemorate 100 years of De Stijl.

Mondrian Trust - Official Foundation Recomended resource

Mondrian and De Stijl at the Pompidou Centre, Paris Recomended resource

By Philippe Dagen
The Guardian
January 11, 2011

Artist Piet Mondrian in London: the forgotten years Recomended resource

By Simon Grant
The Guardian
June 25, 2010

Great Works: Composition in White, Black and Red (1936)

By Tom Lubbock
The Independent
November 27, 2009

Slicing and Dicing the Bright Colors of Mondrian's Boogie-Woogies

By Holland Cotter
The New York Times
June 29, 2001

More Interesting Articles about Piet Mondrian
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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by The Art Story Contributors
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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