Piet Mondrian


Piet Mondrian, among the most prominent of the 20th century's geometric painters, evolved an austere art of black lines and colored rectangles placed against white backgrounds. Mondrian wished to create not only a new art but also a new perception of life. In his view, the contradictions of the modern world--for example, the discipline imposed by technology versus the freedom of the individual--were more apparent than real. By rising above the particular (or the tradition of representational art) to the general (or Abstract art), humanity could achieve a new metaphysical synthesis. his belief is implicit in paintings that to some people look like nothing more than highly refined adventures in aesthetics. 




" 'Everything was spotless white, like a laboratory. In a light smock, with his clean-shaven face, taciturn, wearing his heavy glasses, Mondrian seemed more a scientist or priest than an artist. The only relief to all the white were large matboards, rectangles in yellow, red and blue, hung in asymmetric arrangements on all the walls. Peering at me through his glasses, he noticed my glance and said: "I've arranged these to make it more cheerful."'

--Charmion von Wiegand


Mondrian wanted the infinite, and shape is finite. A straight line is infinitely extendable, and the open-ended space between two parallel straight lines is infinitely extendable. A Mondrian abstract is the most compact imaginable pictorial harmony, the most self-sufficient of painted surfaces (besides being as intimate as a Dutch interior). At the same time it stretches far beyond its borders so that it seems a fragment of a larger cosmos or so that, getting a kind of feedback from the space which it rules beyond its boundaries, it acquires a second, illusory, scale by which the distances between points on the canvas seem measurable in miles.

--David Sylvester


Pictures and text taken from



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