An explanation of Piet Mondrian's work by Michael Sciam

An overview

Mondrian’s oeuvre explained step by step

While Mondrian’s oeuvre as a whole constitutes a unified process with no breaks in continuity, we shall divide it into a number of chapters for explanatory purposes.

MONDRIAN’S NATURALISM: 1893 – 1907

The works produced between 1893 and 1907 were predominantly still-lifes, portraits, and above all landscapes including drawings in pencil or charcoal, watercolors and works in oil on canvas. The works shown here highlight aspects that were to become salient characteristics of his approach during the subsequent phase of development.

MONDRIAN’S EXPRESSIONISM: 1907 – 1911

The acceleration triggered by the process of industrialization and the new rhythms of life, not to mention the advent of photography, contributed to the transformation undergone by the arts as from the second half of the 19th century. No longer required to provide a faithful depiction of detail, painters felt freer to interpret the appearances of the world.

MONDRIAN’S SYMBOLISM: 1901 – 1911

The Dutch painter produced a series of works that are normally described as symbolist. These are works that show Mondrian’s sensitivity toward themes of a more universal nature and constitute a prelude to his later interest in the theosophical doctrine. This constituted no more than a phase of transition toward the development of a wholly visual language.

MONDRIAN’S CUBISM: 1911 – 1914

The naturalistic (or figurative) space modeled on the static appearance of things now began to adapt to the changing form that things assume while interacting with one another beneath the gaze of a mobile observer. It was no longer the outer appearance of individual things that counted now (photography was meanwhile available) but rather a spatial structure capable of connecting all the objects and placing them in a dynamic relationship to one another.

MONDRIAN’S REVOLUTION: 1914 – 1915

Mondrian regarded Cubism also and above all as a way of giving concrete shape to his intimate vision of reality, that is, as the representation of a common, intimate structure of things. In 1915 the artist lays down the foundations of a totally new kind of space which constitute a revolution from the type of space which was still based on the principles of Renaissance plastic space.

OUR REALITY AND TRUE REALITY

This page reflects on the philosophical implications of the new type of space.
“Art should unveil the invisible” (Paul Klee).
We usually see the boundless horizon of the sea as a straight line, whereas it is actually curved. Is what we see true reality?

TOWARD NEOPLASTICISM: 1915 – 1920

During this period the artist works to give concrete shape to the new plastic space. These compositions constituted Mondrian’s first exhaustive formulation of what was to become the Neoplastic vocabulary underpinning all the subsequent work.

NEOPLASTICISM: 1920 – 1944

We analyze here Neoplasticism. The examination is split into six parts: 1 to 6. Part 6 explains the last accomplished canvas, Broadway Boogie Woogie, which represents a marvelous synthesis of Mondrian’s entire oeuvre and an eloquent statement of the artist’s new vision of realty.