Piet Mondrian Blog

Mondrian paintings in legal limbo

Feb 28 2012 09:06PM | by Staff Editor

We don’t want to be one of those tabloid-esque publications with misleading headlines, but poor Piet Mondrian has been the centre of some legal wrangling recently. The first one was straight up theft: in case you’ve been missing the headlines, Greece has been basically declared insolvent as a whole and many of the nation’s government institutions have had to fire staff – or drastically reduce hours – in order to cope with budget cuts. This has included security guards at many of Greece’s museums and ancient sites and thieving humans have been quick to jump at the opportunity for theft: Last month, artworks by Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian were stolen from the National Gallery in Athens, the canvas artworks estimated at $6.5 million. The latter, however, is more to do with legal convention and whether a contract was enforceable between a dispute over a Mondrian painting. In other news this month from New York, a judge has dismissed a law suit from an Upper East Side art gallery which claimed it had an enforceable contract over the sale of a $6.5 million Piet Mondrian painting, entitled Composition from 1923. According to online news reports, the founder of Edelman Arts... Read more

Mondrian dress and Seven and Five Society redux

Dec 27 2011 09:35AM | by Staff Editor

Piet Mondrian’s influence on fashion, lifestyle accessories and even household furniture have been well noted in this blog, so it is in our style to continue with another news update about a classic piece of Mondrian couture – the 1966 classic Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dress, which was sold at the start of December for a whopping USD $47,000. The iconic dress was the star item at a vintage sale held half a century after YSL’s fashion house was founded. Christie’s textile department director Patricia Frost said the dress was a “magic carpet piece” that took a person right back to 1966. Well, we’d argue any genuine vintage piece did just that, but we certainly acknowledge the special qualities of the Mondrian dress – much like his paintings which continue to inspire minimalist designs around the world. In continuing our blast-to-the-past theme, a couple of posts back we mentioned an exhibition currently making waves in England. Entitled MONDRIAN || NICHOLSON: IN PARALLEL, it looked at the impact of British artist Ben Nicholson on Mondrian paintings. The link between the two was certainly substantial, but what was the impact of Nicholson’s artistic group, the Seven and Five Society, on Nicholson and... Read more

Geometric Madi – going beyond Mondrian paintings

Nov 30 2011 06:13PM | by Staff Editor

Pieter Cornelis Mondrian, the Dutch master practitioner of the De Stijl art movement, inspired many art forms and inventions since his death in 1944. Fashion houses have produced dresses that look like their models wrapped themselves in Mondrian composition paintings. Footwear labels such as Nike have produced Mondrian sneakers. There’s even been Mondrian placemats and napkins for the dining table. However, one link not often examined is the De Stijl movement, and its related cousins of Neo-Plasticism and Geometric Abstraction. The Mondrian paintings, most famously known as Compositions, consisted of white backgrounds with black gridlines, filled in with the three primary colours. The art movement Madí incorporates some of these designs into their “concrete art”, or non-representational geometric abstraction as it is known. Madí started in 1946 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, when Carmelo Arden Quin, Gyula Kosice and Rhod Rothfuss published, as is popularly the case, the MADI Manifesto. The acronym itself remains a mystery to scholars: some insist that is stands for MAterialismo DIalectismo (Dialectical Materialism, which Quin applied as the dialectic materialism of art), others believe it means Movimiento Artistico De Invencion, while others maintain it is the initials from CarMelo ArDen QuIn (although this is the least... Read more

Mondrian hearts Nicholson hearts abstract compositions

Nov 28 2011 08:02PM | by Staff Editor

When we mention Abstract Compositions, you’d be forgiven for thinking of Piet Mondrian as the first name to pop into your mind. He was undoubtedly the most famous practitioner and proponent of the movement, but as with every movement, there are its brighter stars, and then the slightly duller ones. Ben Nicholson is not a name often recognised outside art circles and even more so outside art circles outside England, but Mondrian and Nicholson were intimately linked and in many ways Nicholson exerted a significance influence on Mondrian. So who was Nicholson and what is the history between the artists? This question is precisely what seeks to be answered in a new exhibition slated for the Courtauld Gallery from February 16 to May 20, 2012. Titled MONDRIAN || NICHOLSON: IN PARALLEL, it examines the time when Mondrian and Nicholson lived in close proximity together in the 1930s. The artists shared one important belief: that the potential of abstract art was largely untapped and that it held the highest spiritual and aesthetic power. In fact, Mondrian lived and worked for two years in London, and only three years in New York, yet hardly any recognition exists of his London period even... Read more

Mondrian paintings: the perfect harmony?

Oct 30 2011 11:04AM | by Staff Editor

Dear Mr Mondrian, you better watch out, because children from the Wallenpaupack South Elementary School Kindergarten have been producing oil paintings that eerily look similar to your famous compositions. Are these little geniuses in their own right, or are they simply showing that your principles of Geometrical Abstraction are indeed true and universal? Whatever the results, we think their goal for a harmonious and universal art is probably beyond their five-year-old cognitive thinking skills. But it certainly wasn’t beyond yours. The most important overarching thought when viewing Piet Mondrian oil paintings is to ask the question: how does this add to the higher purpose? Mondrian was a rare artist whose very existence sought a universal communicative genre. Artists such as Degas were fascinated with dancers and the nude; the Impressionists on how light played on nature and landscape scenes, while Surrealists were preoccupied with the workings of the subconscious. Mondrian was obsessed with finding a communication method, genre or style that could be understood by all humanity, regardless of race, creed or nationality. For Mondrian life was pure inner activity and fanciful interpretations of art destroyed the objective nature of world art; therefore, art had to be simplified to obtain... Read more

Mondrian, the definitive painter for high fashion

Oct 18 2011 10:08AM | by Staff Editor

We’re not sure if Dutch artist Piet Mondrian ever intended to become the most referenced painter for cat walk haute couture, but numero uno for high fashion he has become. His De Stijl influence has also been seen in contemporary architecture and the latest Beyonce music video – as our collation of information below will show, he’s so popular right now one might just expect him to pop up on CNN or MTV and give a live interview. The first reference to Mondrian’s super popular geometrically abstract paintings comes from Ronaldus Shamask, the 1987 Council of Fashion Designers of America menswear winner. Like Yves Saint Laurent and others before him, Shamask re-interpreted the Mondrian minimalist grid-based art for his first runway show in ten years last week. Photos from the Shamask show have models seemingly draped in the Mondrian painting from 1921, Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Grey, and Blue. Even amateur designers are getting in on the act. Last week rapper Kanye West debuted his clothing line, apparently pulling out all stops for the big event: “I took out mother****ing loans to get the best models, to get the best designers, to get the best venue. I... Read more

De Stijl artwork finds a permanent exhibition in the Netherlands

Oct 02 2011 12:05PM | by Staff Editor

Fans and friends of the De Stijl art movement can breathe just that much easier now, thanks to the announcement of a permanent exhibition at the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (address is Stadhouderslaan 41, 2517 HV Den Haag, for the extra curious ones). From September this year, the works of this important art form will be displayed in a new 750 square metre wing of the museum, which will focus on De Stijl and contain many works from Piet Mondrian and other artists (more later). The Dutch government noted De Stijl was the most important contribution the Netherlands made to the art world, alongside the artworks of Rembrandt and Van Gogh. So what can one see at the world’s largest exhibition of De Stijl art? Firstly, it is important to consider the impact of the De Stijl movement. The artists, from painters to architects and writers, all played important roles in sparking a new wave of European avant-garde artwork. The main reason why the movement was so influential was its predetermined focus: that art could, and should be, functionally applied within all aspects of society. Hence, as co-founder Theo van Doesburg noted, the artists had to create a visual language the... Read more

Tableau I as the original Mondrian composition

Sep 18 2011 06:55PM | by Staff Editor

Mondrian compositions are known all over the world, but what the average member of public doesn’t know is that the ubiquitous gridlines featuring black, red, yellow and blue were actually the later, finer, revisions of Mondrian artwork. Many of the earliest Mondrian compositions only used minimal colour or no colours at all: for example Composition No. II; Composition in Line and Color (1913), Composition III with Color Planes (1917), Composition with Color Planes and Gray Lines 1 (1918) and Composition with Gray and Light Brown (1918). As you can note from the titles, Mondrian used more browns and greys. It was only with his artwork Tableau I that the true and bold use of pure primary colours firmly developed. Tableau I, with Black, Red, Yellow, Blue and Pale Blue, was completed in 1921. The oil on canvas artwork is quite large for a Mondrian artwork, measuring 96.5 cm x 60.5 cm. Currently housed at the Museum Ludwig, the work is considered one of the earliest examples that showed a definite shift in Mondrian’s notions of geometric-abstraction painting, and also a definite shift in the De Stijl movement. The painting was completed in Paris; some art historians claim the move itself... Read more

Mondrian paintings – a fart and programming language

Sep 04 2011 09:42PM | by Staff Editor

We’ve never heard of the famous Mondrian compositions referred to as farts before, but that’s exactly what rival Salvador Dalí decided to focus on when giving his opinion on the artist years ago: “Completely idiotic critics have for several years used the name of Piet Mondrian as though he represented the sum mum of all spiritual activity,” Dalí is popularly quoted as saying. He goes on: “They quote him in every connection. Piet for architecture, Piet for poetry, Piet for mysticism, Piet for philosophy, Piet’s whites, Piet’s yellows, Piet, Piet, Piet… Well, I Salvador, will tell you this, that Piet with one ‘i’ less would have been nothing but pet, which is the French word for fart.” Dalí was no stranger to controversy or delivering a choice line for quotation in the media, but the quote itself is no necessarily aimed at Mondrian paintings per se. Poor little Salvador obviously believed he was more deserving of everyone’s attention, screaming for the critical focus to be on Surrealism, rather than Mondrian’s De Stijl paintings. In fact, Mondrian has in many ways exerted more of an influence after his death than Dalí – as noted before he spawned a huge list of... Read more

Piet Mondrian the hipster

Aug 22 2011 09:45AM | by Staff Editor

It surely is a testament to his art that Mondrian and his boiled down, brightly coloured compositions would arguably become the most recreated design from any Dutch, or indeed modern, De Stijl painter. In fact, it is possible that he is, indirectly, the most viewed and studied painter: while people buying a Mondrian themed dress or sneakers might simply like the bold and simplistic colours, they don’t necessary know the man who pioneered it. So what kooky Mondrian inspired consumables are on the market for the Mondrian junkie looking for their next fix? First off the rack is the featured haute couture Yves St Lauren famous Mondrian dress from 1965. The inspiration is so blatant that we’d be surprised if old St Lauren didn’t, or rather should’ve, paid some royalties to the Mondrian estate. We’re not sure if he did (apologies if he indeed did), but it literally looks like a model could have ripped a Mondrian canvas from the wall and wrapped it around herself (actually, we’d like to see that). Round 1 to Mondrian. There are also plenty of other haute couture items: a Kara Ross Mondrian-style clutch bag is available for the style and art conscious woman,... Read more

Piet Mondrian paintings inspire app and furniture settings

Jul 24 2011 09:59PM | by Staff Editor

Piet Mondrian, the Dutch master of Geometric Abstractionism who has inspired so many artists in the past, now has a new audience: program developers and interior designers. Mondrian has been credited as the inspirational source for a new iPhone app and a possible new movement in furniture arrangement. Could this recent app challenge Angry Birds? Would a Mondrian-esque ethos of furniture arrangement take the wind out of feng shui and other esoteric arts? Firstly let’s start with a quick look at the Mondrian inspired app named Boogie Woogie. According to its press release from June this year, Boogie Woogie 1.2 is the “Fast, Free and Fun New Game with a Twist”. Critically, it combines the abstract style of Piet Mondrian paintings with distinctly art inspired fun – gamers must “climb” a Mondrian canvas with the goal to navigate yellow blocks, which are obstacles, and completely avoid red blocks, which kill the player. Each week a new level is released that matches another one of Mondrian’s paintings, as well as new music to accompany it. Of course, as any Mondrian lover will know, the app name itself comes from several influential Mondrian paintings, including Broadway Boogie-Woogie (1942–43) now at The Museum... Read more

Mondrian paintings and The Hague School

Jul 11 2011 11:54AM | by Staff Editor

Like all great painters, Piet Mondrian painted many works which never saw the light of day. The famous oil paintings of the masters are, after all, only the crème de la crème of many others which led to their stylistic and artistic triumph. Mondrian is no exception. The artist was a student of The Hague School long before he produced his iconic Neo-Plasticism styled oil paintings of white backgrounds dominated by black lines and primary colours. So what was The Hague School? Why did it have such a big influence on a whole generation of Dutch painters, including others such as Van Gogh and Breitner? The Hague School was the name given to a group of artists who worked and lived in The Hague between 1860 and 1890. The group’s artwork was characterised by the use of sombre colours – they used so much grey that some critics called them The Grey School and complained that they painted in tone, rather than colour. This effect was partly attributable to the fact that the artists painted in open air in an effort to replicate the atmosphere and light of the landscape, which was often dull. The Hague School painters were also... Read more

Mondrian, Neo-Plasticism and the founding of a great Dutch movement

May 24 2011 11:04AM | by Staff Editor

Neo-Plasticism. Sounds slightly unpleasant, doesn’t it? Perhaps it has something to do with Pamela Anderson gone wrong, or, for that matter, any Hollywood celebrity who strangely looks like a just past-pubescent teenager despite being well into their 40s, 50s, 60s or beyond (oh wait, it’s just good genetics!). But hold on, you’re on an art blog here. We wouldn’t expect those artistic types to turn on themselves, would we? On a more serious note, however, neo-plasticism was an important art movement that originated in the Netherlands. It referred to a broad range of work from 1917-1931. Neo-plasticism is also known as the De Stijl movement, which means “The Style” in Dutch. Keeping with popular trends of the period (and arguably today), De Stijl was also the name of a journal published by a cofounder of neo-plasticism, Theo van Doesburg. Van Doesburg was a Dutch painter, writer, designer and critic who, along with Piet Mondrian, kick started the movement. De Stijl was characterised by a near-fervent revolt towards the fundamentals of art: simple line, color, form and level. Artists such as Mondrian used mostly horizontal and vertical straight lines, with white, black and gray prominent, along with the primary colors. Some... Read more

Paintings by Piet Mondrian Inspire a Line of Cakes

May 03 2011 10:13AM | by Staff Editor

Visiting the San Francisco Art Museum can be truly inspiring. You'll see famous paintings by Henri Matisse, Georges Braque and Piet Mondrian, among others. You can visit the extensive photography and sculpture collections. Or learn more about architecture and design. A visit to the museum can also be exhausting. With over 26,000 works in the collection, the museum is large and there's a lot of standing and walking involved in a comprehensive visit. It's likely you'd need a break during your visit, and perhaps a little treat. For guests who want to keep their experience about art and artists, even while they're eating, the Blue Bottle Coffee Bar has a suggestion. Caitlin Williams Freeman, baker at the café, wanted to meld her passion for art with her passion for baking. In her café, the foods are inspired by and playfully point to the artwork held in the museum's collection. One of her most popular desserts is the Mondrian Cake, inspired by the Piet Mondrian "Composition in Red, Blue and Yellow" painting. This painting, like many other Mondrian paintings, contains a grid of deep black lines, creating squares of color in red, yellow and blue. Freeman recreates this painting in cake... Read more

Mondrian Paintings Spawn a Videogame

Apr 26 2011 03:23PM | by Staff Editor

In late 2010, game designer Joe Wezorek released the Windows-based video game Mondrian. This free game is based on Piet Mondrian paintings, and is reported to be wildly addictive. The concept behind the game is simple. The player is presented with a "painting," or a series of rectangles. The game-player uses the mouse to color the boxes. Only four colors are provided. Adjacent boxes must contain different colors. Extra points are given for completed works that contain a significant amount of white boxes, although white is treated like any other color in this game and adjacent boxes cannot be white. The game ends when a timer runs out, or the player has completed the painting by correctly coloring in the boxes. The game's creator is clearly a student of Mondrian's paintings, but is this game as accurate to the spirit of Mondrian as possible? Paintings by Mondrian do contain squares of primary colors and white. Mondrian felt that geometric shapes and primary colors were the best way to express beauty. However, Mondrian was in no way confined to separating his colors. As seen in Rhythm of Black Lines, Mondrian paintings often contain squares of white sitting right next to one... Read more

What Would a Mondrian Hotel Look Like?

Apr 10 2011 06:07PM | by Staff Editor

In February of this year, the Morgans Hotel Group opened the Mondrian SoHo, a 270-room hotel in New York. This luxury hotel garnered a lot of press coverage, due to its size and the price of the rooms. Perhaps people were amazed that a high-cost hotel could open and succeed during a financial crisis. Or perhaps people were curious about the name. Would the Mondrian SoHo have anything to do with paintings by Piet Mondrian? The answer is complicated. While there are definite connections between the Mondrian SoHo and Mondrian paintings, these connections are somewhat incidental. A true Mondrian hotel would vary in some crucial ways. Piet Mondrian is best known for his geometric paintings. Composition A by Piet Mondrian, for example, contains a grid of black lines, not quite extending to the edge of the canvas, that enclose blocks of primary colors and blocks of black and white. Often, Piet Mondrian paintings contain this color palette, or contain an absence of color altogether. In Rhythm of Black Lines, for example, the white of the canvas and the black of the lines dominate and nearly push squares of blue and yellow from the canvas altogether. For Mondrian, the symmetry of... Read more