Pieter Cornelis “Piet” Mondrian, after 1906 Mondrian was a Dutch painter. He was an important contributor to the De Stijl art movement and group, which was founded by Theo van Doesburg.

Born: March 7, 1872, Amersfoort, Netherlands
Died: February 1, 1944, Manhattan, New York City, NY


Geinrust Farm in Watery Landscape, 1905

avond-evening-the-red-tree-1910Red Tree, 1910


Grey Tree, 1912

mondrianFlowing Apple Tree, 1912


Composition No. VII, 1913


Composition No. 10, 1914


Composition, 1916


Composition III, 1917


Composition with Grid, No. VII, 1919


Composition with Yellow, Red, Black, Blue, and Gray, 1920

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Composition VII, 1930

My 2 cents:

Look back again at the progression Mondrian went through. He started with trees, and ended with squares. This was not an accident. He was simplifying. Editing. He was defining, for himself and all of us, what a painting was.

Mondrian was one of several painters who, after photography and the exciting but unsettling explosions of modernism, found themselves actively exploring what painting is. What made a painting a painting? After you take away the need for a painting to show images that now a camera could show, and you take away the demand that it be a recognizable thing, what is the foundation, the core of a painting? Is it color? (Rothko thought so.) Ok, so if it is colors, what colors? What about composition? Is it composition and colors? What perfect product is left after everything unnecessary is stripped away? This was his answer: a simple but strong composition of squares, with primary colors determined to be white, black, red, and yellow.

Piet Mondrian Artwork

 After that pinnacle of simplification in 1920, he kinda passed himself going with the whites in 1930. Hard to know when to stop when you’re on a roll, isn’t it. Mondrian, Trees to abstraction 2