Piet Mondrian (1872-1944)


Piet Mondrian, a Dutch painter, was one of the most influential 20th-century artists. He moved progressively from seminaturalism to abstraction and simplification concepts. His new art theories, Neoplasticism, had a significant influence in the course of painting, as well as on architecture, industrial design and graphic arts.

Mondrian was born in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, on March 7, 1872. He studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (Amsterdam Academy of Fine Arts) from 1892 to 1897. Until 1908, his work was seminaturalistic, influenced by Impressionism and Symbolism - incorporating successive influences of academic landscape and still-life painting.

In 1909, Mondrian tried Pointillism, but after seeing the original Cubist works of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso at the Moderne Kunstkring exhibition in Amsterdam, he began to work on a Cubist mode.

After 1912, Mondrian developed his own abstract style, Neoplasticism, limiting his paintings to simple combinations of straight lines, right angles, primary colors, black, white, and gray. He founded the Stijl (The Style) magazine with Theo van Doesburg, a Dutch painter, in 1917. This magazine was a channel to transmit and extend the principles of abstraction and simplification not only to painting but also to sculpture, architecture, and graphic and industrial design – some of Mondrian’s essays on abstract art were published. In 1925, Mondrian left Stijl when Doesburg reintroduced diagonal elements into his work. He joined Abstraction-Création, Paris, in 1931.

At the beginning of World War II, October 1940, Mondrian moved to New York where he joined the American Abstract Artists and continued to publish essays on Neoplasticism. In 1942, Mondrian exhibited solo for the first time at the Valentine Dudensing Gallery in New York. His last paintings evolved around the city. He maintained that art should express only the universal absolutes that underlie reality and should not be concerned with the reproduction of real objects. Mondrian died in New York on February 1, 1944.

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