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Piet Mondrian

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Piet Mondrian Essay, Research Paper

In the early 1900s many artists tried various abstract ways of representing reality. Piet Mondrian went beyond them. In his final compositions he avoided any suggestion of reproducing the material world. Instead using horizontal and vertical black lines that outline blocks of pure white, red, blue or yellow, he expressed his conception of ultimate harmony and equilibrium. Mondrian was born on March 7, 1872 in Amersfoort, The Netherlands. He studied at the Amsterdam Academy from 1892 to 1895 then began painting on his own. Most of his early works were landscapes. In 1909 he began a series of paintings of trees in which he developed an increasingly abstract style. He moved to Paris, about 1912, where he was influenced by the cubist painters. During World War I, Mondrian painted in The Netherlands. There he helped found De Stijl a magazine of the arts that influenced European painting, architecture, and design. He also began to formulate his own aesthetic theories. His style, and its underlying artistic principles, he called neoplasticism. The later paintings, which date from 1920 until his death, have simple titles, such as Composition in Red, Yellow and Blue painted in 1926, and Composition in White, Black and Red (1936).

Piet Mondrian, among the most prominent of the 20th century’s geometric painters, evolved an austere art of black lines and colored rectangles placed against white backgrounds. Mondrian wished to create not only a new art but also a new perception of life. In his view, the contradictions of the modern world–for example, the discipline imposed by technology versus the freedom of the individual–were more apparent than real. By rising above the particular or the tradition of representational art to the general or abstract art, humanity could achieve a new metaphysical synthesis. This belief is implicit in paintings that to some people look like nothing more than highly refined adventures in aesthetics.

Mondrian’s early paintings are fairly conventional Dutch landscapes, but after 1908–when he became aware of recent and avant-garde art movements of that time (symbolism and Fauvism)–he began to withdraw from imitation of nature. This inclination was supported by his decision in 1909 to join the Theosophical Society, whose religious mysticism encouraged him to turn inward to a spiritual world.

Mondrain s evolution as an artist represents the origin and essence of De Stijl. Working to free painting completely from both the depiction of nameable objects and the expression of personal feelings, he developed and austre style baes on the expressive potential of fundamental visual elements and their relationships. He sought to create a new aesthetic that would provide a poetic vitality capable of setting standards of harmony for the new technological age (Preable, 439).

From 1917 until his death in 1944, Mondrian was the leading spokesperson for an art reflecting universal order. For Mondiran, the universal elements were straight lines, the three primary colors, and rectangular shapes. He reduvced painting to four elements: line, shape, color, and space. Composition with red, yellow , and blue, completed in 1930, exemplifies his totally nonrepresentational later work.

In 1940, Mondrian left Europe for New York, where he spent the last four years of his life. New York was a joy to him because it seemed to be a celebration oh human achievement. He was fascinating by the geometric, technological world, its neon lights, and especially the staccato rhythms of American Jazz. His enthusiasm for music, dancing, and his new environment gave his final paintings, such as Broadway Boogie-Woogie, a pulsing, rhythmic energy.

The New Plastic in Painting’, best expresses their ideas for a universal, elemental art divorced from the need to serve representation: `The new plastic art…can only be based on the abstraction of all form and colour, i.e. the straight line and the clearly defined primary colour’(Lemoine, 1987, p.29).

`Neo-Plasticism’(a name by which de Stijl is alternately known) rejected figuration as the goal of art and replaced it with the pared-down vocabulary of elemental shapes and primary colours, thereby allowing art to express its own `plastic’ language free of the concerns of representation. The artist in this environment became less author of a subjective artwork than the agent of a universal harmony. The depesonalisation of the artwork was carried through into the execution which was anonymous and impersonal, as in Mondrian’s `Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue’ (1930); although many De Stijl paintings are abstractions of natural phenomena, such as van Doesburg’s `Rhythms of a Russian Dance’ (1918).

Piet Mondrians plate 631 composition with red, yellow, and blue, held up with thick black lines is magnifisant. Starting at the top right corner of the painting, we can see a big block of red which represents heaviness. It looks as if the red is pushing toward the left and bottom. But on the left there is two boxes of white, which represent the lightness of weight , which perfectly balances the weight of the red, pushing back in the right direction. From underneath the two white boxes is blue, which represents again a sort of heaviness to balance the white on top and on right of the blue. Then the big pathc of white underneath the red, is blancing the blue on the left from caving in to the yellow and white. The black lines don t represent weight, but are merely borders to separate the colors from each other. Mondrian magnificantly takes use of the colors to represent weight.

One can conclude that this beautiful art work performed by Piet Mondian, is his expressions which are his life. We cannot exactly tell what this art form represents, but we can assume, it is his mind with perfect balance. The red represents some stress which is balanced with some other factor in his life . But in the end, Mondrian places everthing in a perfectly balanced order.

Formal elements and content in my opinion are the inner meanings of art, and the interact with each other in the way that one is made for another, just as man is made for women, and women is made for man. The physical formal elements, of what the art piece is made up of, describes to the viewer the time and feeling of being placed in that time period. The content and true meaning of the art, allows the viewer to connect with the artist, what message the artist is trying to send.


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