Piet Mondrian

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Piet Mondrian was a Dutch painter known for creating naturalistic and impressionistic landscapes. Art critics claim that his style is heavily influenced by both Picasso and Braque. It was this inclination that made him a powerful player in the De Stijl art movement.

Piet was the son of Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan who was the principle of a Calvinist primary school in Amersfoort. The milieu of his family was one conducive for artistic nourishment. In fact, it was on the encouragement of his father and uncle that he finally decided to take up drawing. He was merely fourteen at the time. However, his father also insisted that he should not pursue an art career on the expense of his education. Thereupon, Mondrian was made to graduate and in 1892 he possessed the qualifications needed to be an art teacher. The very year, he also took a multitude of classes in painting.

In 1893, his first paintings were showcased in the art society Kunstliefde (“Art Lovers”) in Utrecht and in 1897 he exhibited for a second time. Up to the turn of the century, Mondrian’s work was obsessed with the art of Holland. It was only after he visited his friend in Belgium that the meadows and streams inspired him to draw landscapes.

In 1907 Amsterdam sponsored an exhibition that featured work of Impressionists painters. Their paintings were strongly affected by artists like Gogh. Mondrian visited the exhibition and gained immense insight. An evidence of this insight can be seen in his painting drawn in 1907 which he called Mondrian’s Red Cloud.

It was when he painted Woods near Oele that Mondrian’s style began to truly evolve. Dutch artist Jan Toorop applauded this new approach. In 1912, Mondrian shifted to Paris. It was here that he developed the facets of cubism. This period lasted till 1917.

In 1917, Mondrian collaborated with three fellow artists (Theo van Doesburg, Bart van der Leck, and Vilmos Huszar) and formed the art periodical along with the movement of De Stijl. They defended denying perceived reality as a theme and the confinement of pictorial language. It happened in 1918 that he engaged himself with lines in his work again. Between 1918 and 1919 he included thick black lines and an eclectic pool of hues and colors in his paintings. He also drafted the two types of check board composition in 1919. The names of his work during the time bear witness to this abstractness. Gray, Red, Yellow, and Black (c. 1920–26) and Diagonal Composition (1921) were his major work that followed.

In 1919 he came back to Paris. Still, he remained in correspondence with De Stijl. During the time he also published his many art theories in the booklet Le Néo-plasticisme. It was in 1938 that Mondrian left Paris for London. Soon after, he created his famous Lozenge composition with four Yellow Lines. The painting was not complicated and comprised mainly of thick colorful lines.

Piet Mondrian passed away on February 1, 1944 of pneumonia. He was buried in Brooklyn, New York at the Cemetery. A memorial service was held for him on February 3, 1944 at the Universal Chapel in Manhattan, the attendees for which were over 200 in number.


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