Piet Corneljis Mondriaan (changed his name to Mondrian) was born on 7 March 1872 in the small town of Amersfoort in the Netherlands. At the age of forty he moved to Paris where he lived and worked until 1938 when, after a short stay in London, he finally moved to New York City where he died on 1 February 1944.
Mondrian’s oeuvre has introduced radical changes in the way painting represents reality. From images that reproduce the outward appearance of things, to which we are accustomed, to compositions of lines and planes of colors, a space that no longer seems to have anything in common with our immediate perception of reality.
One of the aims of these pages is to explain the reasons for this evolution by showing how to read and interpret abstract painting in relation to everyday life and the universal themes of the human condition.
In a world where the parts have grown superabundantly, where the firm points of reference and age-old certainties have been lost, the capacity for abstraction becomes indispensable in rediscovering a certain essence of things.
A certain way of understanding art can contribute today toward recasting the vision of greater breadth that has been lacking on the frenzied and fragmentary cultural scene over the last few decades.
A visual presentation
Mondrian’s oeuvre has been an evolutionary process which has revealed itself as an organic structure in which one canvas cannot be separated from another without losing sight of the deeper meaning of the whole. That vision is encapsulated in Broadway Boogie Woogie, his last work, completed in 1943. It really is a most fascinating trajectory:
Neoplasticism condensed in three works
The overall evolution and substantial meaning of Piet Mondrian’s oeuvre can be condensed in three fundamental paintings.
This section develops further reflections on the relationships between neoplastic space and philosophy, science, urban space, individual and social life. A page reflects on today’s official artistic scene.
Comparing three abstract paintings
A comparison between Broadway Boogie Woogie and two paintings, respectively by an unknown Zen painter of the 18th century and by Henri Matisse, suggest different ways to see reality in abstract terms, that is, at a universal level.
“Every human being is born with a natural vocation towards the universal and those who believe that painting means using only brushes and not the head are incapacitated who would like to reduce man to less than what he really is.” (Michel Seuphor)
Past and present
A comparison of works by Raffaello Sanzio and a painting by Piet Mondrian highlights commonalities between such distant works showing, mutatis mutandis, an unexpected and compelling continuity between past and present.
The author of these studies
Copyright 1989-2022 Michele Sciam