Thursday, 25 April 2013

I hate Mondrian! Sort of...

So, maybe I don’t really hate him that much. I guess I just don't like his “squares” paintings.
Seriously, the man painted a bunch of red, blue and yellow squares, and was hailed as a ground-breaking artist for it.
If I don’t like his paintings, then why am I writing about him? Because squares!
Although I dislike Mondrian, he was truly innovative for his time and one of the greatest names of Modernist Art.
So, here is a short description of who Piet Mondrian was and what he did. I warn you right away: he was a very “square” painter. If you google Mondrian (DO IT!), you will find A LOT paintings with red, blue and yellow squares. Oh, and also cars, shoes, dresses and apples with those patterns.

Piet Mondrian (born Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan in 1872) was a Dutch painter. His work marked the transition from the Hague School and Symbolism to Neo-Impressionism and Cubism (more like “squarism” – See? I just invented a word! Give me credit for it!). He is most famous for his contributions to the De Stijl movement, also known as Neoplasticism.
This movement was founded in the Netherlands in 1917 by painter, designer, writer and critic Theo Van Doesburg. The neoplastic artists’ tried to express a utopian ideal of spiritual harmony and order, by painting squares! I’m kidding! Seriously, though…
In fact, they advocated pure abstraction and universality, reducing their visual compositions to the essentials of shape (horizontal and vertical directions) and colour (primary colours, black and white).

Mondrian’s first works were mostly landscapes and pastoral images, borrowing from the Hague School of artists, with either naturalistic or impressionistic features. These first paintings marked his initial search for a personal style and were what can be called “representational”, drawing inspiration from Pointilism and Fauvism (The Red Mill and Trees in Moonrise).
For a few years (1911-14), Mondrian lived in Paris, where he contacted with Picasso and Georges Braque, whose cubist style influenced the painter’s work. His depictions of trees show experimentations with Cubism (The Grey Tree, 1912).
His turn towards Abstraction, which would become his defining feature (along with squares!) in the Modernist movement after 1920, began during WWI, when he stayed at the Laren artists’ colony with Bart van der Leck and van Doesburg, which led to the creation of the De Stijl/Neoplasticism movement. From here on out, he only painted squares! Squares, squares, squares!
His works from the late 1930s-early 1940s showed Mondrian’s turn from his signature “black and white canvas with blue, red and yellow squares”-paintings. In my snoopy and yet humble opinion, these paintings are better than his “usual stuff” and some of them are actually incredible. His Composition with Four Yellow Lines (1933) presented yellow lines instead of black ones (he was such a rebel). Broadway Boogie-Woogie (1943) represents the city grid of Manhattan and the boogie-woogie music, which Mondrian loved.

Mondrian died of pneumonia in 1944 and was buried in the Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn. In his time, Mondrian was considered the founder of the most modern art.

I still do not see the appeal of Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red. However, to be fair, he does have some very interesting and visually striking works after 1933.

I think you can find, if not all, most of his works in this link:
Here are some other useful links, if you want to know more about Mondrian and “Squarism”:
·         Yves Saint Laurent’s dress based on Mondrian’s painting:

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