Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red, 1937–42, Piet Mondrian. 


Two weeks ago at Centre Pompidou I chose a favourite amongst the Mondrian pieces on display. It was a ‘study’, a piece so contrary to what Mondrian’s final pieces represent, it couldn’t help but stand out in the crowd.

The study is something I’m guessing Mondrian himself wouldn’t have chosen to show in public. In fact, I can’t believe this piece even made it into the gallery. It showed brush stroke, line quality & process; the hand of Mondrian was clearly visible  and the process and decision making of this creation were visible in the erased and ‘whited out’ lines on the paper.

Amazing. Amongst the rooms and rooms (and rooms) of highly abstracted, restrictive, regulated paintings this piece showed something else! (Now that I think about it, I wonder why this piece wasn’t given more attention and description. THIS! This piece showed the hand of the artist! )

But I need to stop, in all my extravagant wondering about this piece of art. I need to stand back from the colouring of my own artistic perspectives and preferences which  favours art created in a manner of expressivity vs. that of the De Stijl movement which (as outlined by Wikipedia) “…sought to express a new utopian ideal of spiritual harmony and order. [Proponents of the De Stijl movement] advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour; they simplified visual compositions to the vertical and horizontal directions, and used onlyprimary colors along with black and white…”

Whatever it may be the De Stijl artists were seeking, I felt very little harmony or utopian sensation from the rigorously  confined compositions on display in the Mondrian exhibit. I found, aside from the painting study (as discussed above), there was no point of recognition, connection or attraction with or to these paintings.

And I feel a certain guilt (or is it stupidity) about saying this because there seems to be a disconnect. How is it that I feel nothing for the mondernist De Stijl art movement yet the evolving architecture of the time makes my heart and mind leap and yearn?


JJP Oud / Petit Maison Semi-permanente / Rotterdam, Holland / 1923


– janet bright


originally posted  2011/04/03

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