Piet Mondrian was born in the city of Amersfoort, Netherlands as Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan. He was originally a teacher who also dabbled in painting. Most of his paintings are oil on canvas.
Mondrian – “Curves are so Emotional”
In his early years (around 1895 -1908) Piet Mondrian painted naturalistic landscapes or impressionistic still life. Naturalistic paintings are paintings of realistic objects in a natural setting while impressionist paintings consist of short broken brushstrokes not smoothly blended together.
Sometime during 1908, Mondriaan was attracted to spiritual studies, especially the ‘Theosophical Movement’. He blended his newfound spiritualism with his paintings in an abstract Luminist style. Luminist works are paintings of landscapes with lighting effects and hidden brushstrokes.
During 1911, he became influenced by Cubism, which was a leading art trend made popular by artists of the time such as Picasso and Braque. The next year, he moved to Paris and dropped an ‘a’ from his surname, changing it to Mondrian. He gave up representational art and signed all his later works as ‘Mondrian’.
When he visited his home in the Netherlands in 1914, the First World War broke out which postponed his departure. Here he was taken up by the use of the three primary colours – red, blue and yellow and formed a new artistic theory called Neo Plasticism. This form of art consisted of horizontal and vertical lines with a few spaces in between filled with primary colors. When he returned to France, after the war ended in 1919, he began creating his ‘grid’ paintings. This form of pure abstraction continued throughout his life.
Another penchant of Mondrian was to create ‘lozenge’ paintings. These lozenges were square canvases tilted at an angle so that they hung in a diamond shape.
At the start of the Second World War, Piet Mondrian left Paris for London and later New York. Here he began a new form of painting which was a complex lattice of interlacing red, blue and yellow lines. ‘Broadway Boogie-Woogie’ is one such abstract geometric painting that seems to be inspired by the cheery music of the time. Piet Mondrian died of pneumonia in New York City in 1944. Mondrian’s ‘Neoplastic’ style continues to be used in the advertising, design, graphics, fashion and art fields today.