Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue

Having recently stumbled across this excellent article on Piet Mondrian, (one of our favourite artists!) we thought it would be a good idea to reproduce something we wrote a few years back, plus five of his better known art quotes:

The first aim in painting should be universal expression

By the unification of architecture, sculpture and painting a new plastic reality will be created.

Every true artist has been inspired more by the beauty of lines and color and the relationships between them than by the concrete subject of the picture.

I think the destructive element is too much neglected in art

To move the picture into our surroundings and give it real existence, has been my ideal since I came to abstract painting

Piet Mondrian background

Piet Mondrian was born in the Amersfoort in the Netherlands in 1872 and died in New York in 1944. His importance as an artist lies in his contribution to ‘pure’ abstraction or non-representational forms. His paintings are more than just experimental and he aimed to reduce paintings to their most basic elements. For example in his London and New York works from 1938 – 1944 in there are typically white backgrounds with three primary colour.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue
Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue

I chose to look at Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue because although it was painted circa 1937–42 it looks really modern and could easily be hanging in the lobby of a fancy Merchant Bank or media empire head office. It comprises three primary colour rectangles separated by thick black vertical and horizontal grid lines. It is part of his series of geometric paintings in which the artist ironically tried to exclude all reference to the modern world outside. Mondrian called this ‘universal harmony’ and the use of the bold contrasting colours with the balanced lines helps to convey this. He is attributed as saying “All painting – the painting of the past as well as of the present – shows us that its essential plastic means we are only line and colour.”

This remarkable painting is in the Tate Gallery collection, London and is oil on canvas measuring 73.7 x 69.2 cm. For other great examples of Mondrian’s work have a look for Broadway Boogie-Woogie (1942-43), Victory Boogie Woogie (1942–44), Composition 10,(1939-42), Place de la Concorde (1938-43) and for an earlier work have a look for Still Life with Ginger Jar II (1911/12). Sadly Mondrian is also an example of an artist who died when they were perhaps creating their finest and most influencial work – he died from pneumonia in New York City in 1944. 

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *