Mondrian – Artist of the Month
Mondrian is one of my favourite artists.
I love how visually striking his work is and I like his relationship between the lines and geometrical shapes. This month I plan to explore Mondrian’s style through a series of craft and artworks and invite you all to try making something that is influenced by his style too!
Piet Mondrian 1872 -1944
His Life & His Work
Welcome to the art and creative visions of Piet Mondrian, renowned for his use of primary colours, lines and sense of structure.
Early Years (1872-1911)
Piet Mondrian came from a family of long-established artists and teachers.
He learnt to draw and paint from a very early age. Mondrian began experimenting with light and colour, inspired by his Impressionist contemporaries. He painted landscapes and rural scenes, incorporating some of the unique Dutch architecture and agricultural buildings.
His great passion was always in the creative arts and in 1892 he entered the Academy of Fine Art in the Netherlands.
During this time he began to experiment with Pointillism. He also used the lurid colours and brush marks associated with the Fauvist movement. Mondrian began to explore more abstract ideas after he attended a Cubism exhibition in Amsterdam in 1911.
Mondrian in Paris (1911-14)
The Cubist influence of Picasso and Braque can be seen in many of his works, including Grey Tree 1911. He experimented with lines, geometric shapes and different colour palettes.
He also began exploring beyond the natural world around him. This was an important time as he was able to start freely working in an abstract way.
The Netherlands (1914-1919)
Mondrian was visiting the Netherlands in 1914 when the war in Europe broke out and was forced to remain in the Netherlands for the duration of the war. It was here that he began to really explore his art and was melding his personal spirituality with his work.
He produced academic papers on his NeoPlastic approach to painting. An influence in the Dutch De Stijl (The Style) movement, he contributed to the De Stijl journal with fellow Dutch artists and designers.
Paris Between the Wars (1919-1938)
Mondrian immersed himself in post-WWI Parisian life and really began to experiment with line and form. It was during this time that he began to develop his block grid and colour style which he became renowned for.
His early work in Paris consisted of abstract shapes in muted colours, shapes and open grid lines. However, as his unique style matured, he began to use bold colours and strong black grids to create visually striking abstract images.
London & New York (1938-1944)
In 1938, Mondrian moved to London in an attempt to escape from the wave of fascism in Europe. Finally, he moved to Manhattan in 1940. His work was quite prolific at this time, working on some canvases that he had begun many months or years ago in London or Paris.
He began to use more colours and his work became busier, with more blocks of colour and fewer grid lines. Once he started to interlace strips of colour, he gave depth to his canvas. This was unlike his earlier abstract works.
The musical arts and film in the USA brought a sense of vibrancy and visual depth to his work at this time. These works became his Boogie Woogie period, highlighting the influence of current music at the time on his art.
He died from pneumonia in Manhattan in 1944 at the age of 71.
Works by Mondrian – (clockwise from top) Composition Red, Yellow, Blue and Black 1921, Composition in Grey with Light Brown 1918, Broadway Boogie Woogie 1942, Evening Red Tree 1908-10, The Winkel Mill 1908.
Images obtained from Wikipedia.
1944 Onwards – An Inspired World
A new wave of artists and designers, intrigued and interested in Mondrian and the De Stijl style, followed.
The NeoPlastic style, incorporating colour and form, had an influence on popular culture and design. This is particularly noticeable in the 1950’s, 60’s and 80’s use of colour and form in design and artworks.
For example, the fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent dedicated a part of his art influenced collection to Mondrian. The Mondrian Collection 1965, included six cocktail dresses that incorporated the black lines, white background and primary colours in geometric shapes.