mondrian, quickly

Check this out — I love it:

Piet Mondrian, Farm Buildings with Trees and Water Ditch, 1895-6

One of the reasons that I love it is that it’s so unexpected.   You look at the painting, then look at the label, then look at the painting again, then the label again.  Mondrian?  Really?  Here’s a more typical painting by Mondrian:

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Gray and Light Brown, 1918

Or this:

Piet Mondrian, Tableau 2, 1922

So seeing the landscape above comes as a complete surprise.  Here’s another one:

Piet Mondrian, Waals- Eilandgracht with Bridge and Moored Tjalk Barges, 1895-6

So Mondrian, quickly:  Dutch painter best known for his geometric, primary color paintings, but started out painting landscapes.  You can read all about him on wikipedia.  And quickly, there are such clear and logical explanations for why he went from landscapes to geometric paintings.  It’s pretty fascinating — I highly suggest taking a few minutes to read about him and his interest in theosophy and Helena Blavatsky (which I in no way claim to understand, but which even a shallow understanding of helps to explain Mondrian).  And quickly, as I look at his landscapes, I can see the geometry which was to come.  That’s pretty cool.

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6 thoughts on “mondrian, quickly

  1. I spent an afternoon a few years ago looking at Mondrian. I was given a big ‘ol art history book for Christmas and Mondrian’s The Red Tree ended up being one of my favorite paintings in the book, and it was immediately loved back then, too. It’s dated 1909. He was 41. And he signs this painting differently by dropping one of the A’s in his name; and he had said he would drop this letter in his name when he found his “true personality “. You can really see in this painting how he is seeing the tree in sections. http://legacy.earlham.edu/~vanbma/20th%20century/images/mondrian%20red%20tree.jpg
    By 1914 (or earler?) he was doing the sort of paintings that we recognize him for.

    I would have loved to hang out with this guy when he made The Red Tree. Something clicked creatively for him that changed his work for the rest of his life. And the idea of celebrating what he thought was his personal revolution in his work by shortening his name—He distills his work and then distills his name. Cool!

    Any way, thanks for reminding me of Mondria(a)n.

    • Thank YOU! I’d never seen The Red Tree before, and now I want to spend all day looking at it. Thanks for your thoughts and for enriching my experience of Mondrian!

  2. Hi Karen–

    Love the blog, and had to comment on this post as I’ve long been struck by Mondrian’s late-career shift! Two (possibly apocryphal) stories I’ve heard about Mondrian: that he was so deeply committed to his rectilinear-and-primary-colors style that he cut off contact with a fellow traveler who had the gall to include a diagonal in one of his compositions; and that his devotion to that style couldn’t keep him from his deep passion for painting floral still lifes–he just had to pre-date them so that they wouldn’t seem to contradict his ethos!

    I’ll have to learn more about the Blavatsky/Theosophy link–I’ve been really interested to learn of other connections to that school of mysticism: Frank Lloyd Wright and Olgivanna, George Gurdjieff, and the Enneagram!

    Best,

    Andy

    • Hi Andy —

      Wow, fascinating! I had no idea about the pre-dating of still lifes. I love that he could have such a passion for two such different styles at the same time. I’ve just been learning about enneagrams, too, in the last couple of years, but didn’t know about their connection with Blavatsky. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

      Take care —
      -Karen

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