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Piet Mondrian and total art

This week, we take a look at the most famous works of the Dutch artist

Piet Mondrian is one of the founders of historical abstraction and a major figure in the De Stijl movement.  His compositions are characterised by the use of straight lines, grids and primary colours. This week, we take a look at the most famous works of the Dutch artist, published in silkscreen by the artist's heirs.

 

Piet MONDRIAN (after)
Composition Rouge Jaune Bleu, 1927 (1957)

Silkscreen in colors on wove paper
Limited edition of 200
This silkscreen was printed for scarce portfolio "Album de douze sujets"
Published by Galerie Denise René, 1957.
Dimensions : 24,5 h × 20 in - 65,3 × 50,5 cm

 

This silkscreen print illustrates one of Mondrian's iconic works. The grid created by segments of black lines structures the composition. The artist is looking for total flatness. The primary colours are represented at the outer edges and form blocks of colour, "non-colours" according to Mondrian.

 

Two rare portfolios authorized by the rights  

During his lifetime, Mondrian would never have produced prints. The silkscreens we are presenting were published after his death and come from two rare portfolios authorised by the artist's heirs. They were published by the Denise René Gallery in 1957 and by Ives-Stillman in 1967. These prints are limited editions with an edition size between 150 and 200 copies.

 

Figure the abstraction 

 

Piet MONDRIAN (after)
L'arbre bleu, 1911 (1957)

Silkscreen in colors on wove paper
Limited edition of 200
This silkscreen was printed for scarce portfolio

"Album de douze sujets"
Published by Galerie Denise René, 1957.
Dimensions : 24,5 h × 20 in - 65,3 × 50,5 cm

 

In this composition from 1911, Mondrian depicted a tree. He used this motif many times, and despite the figurative aspect of the composition, we can see that Mondrian is moving further and further away from figuration towards abstraction. Indeed, the artist seeks to reach the very essence of the tree by simplifying it to the extreme, as well as the background, represented by a light blue monochrome, and the minimalist ground. In the lower right-hand corner, the signature 'Piet Mondriaan' can be seen; he removed the second 'a' in 1912 to distinguish himself from his father and uncle.  By seeking to go beyond figuration, he achieved a total simplicity in his painting.

 

Piet Mondrian

 

Piet Mondrian. Photo. From De Stijl, vol. 5, nr. 12 (December 1922)
De Stijl. [vol.] 2. 1921_1932. Complete Reprint 1968.
Amsterdam: Athenaeum, Den Haag: Bert Bakker, Amsterdam: Polak & Van Gennep, 1968, p. 304.

 

Piet Mondrian (real name Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan) was born in 1872. His father and uncle (both painters) encouraged him to draw outdoors and he found his inspiration in Holland. He began by painting classical landscapes and still lifes, and in 1892 enrolled at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam.

In the early 1900s, Mondrian was influenced by Symbolism and gave his landscapes an intellectual dimension. He also discovered the works of Vincent van Gogh with their shimmering colours. His palette inspired him and he became aware of the importance of colour as a means of expression.

In 1911, Mondrian moved to Paris and experimented with Cubism. His cubist compositions quickly evolved into Abstract Cubism with purely geometric compositions based on vertical and horizontal lines and pure colours.

Piet Mondrian was an active figure in the De Stijl (The Style) movement founded by Theo Van Doesburg. Together they founded "Neoplasticism", an aesthetic in which the straight line and primary colours dominate. The two visual artists soon wanted to achieve a total art form that would have an influence on all areas, such as furniture. Gerrit Rietveld's famous "Red and Blue Chair" from 1918 is the perfect example. 

 

Gerrit RIETVELD
The red and blue chair or, Rietveld chair (1917-1923)

 

In 1945, the Museum of Modern Art in New York paid tribute to the artist who had died a few months earlier.  Mondrian, who introduced Jackson Pollock to Peggy Guggenheim, has been celebrated by several exhibitions in France. The last one in 2019, at the Musée Marmottant Monet, presented the figurative works of the painter, less known by the general public.

See our selection of silkscreens by Piet Mondrian