Piet Mondrian

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Piet Mondrian, 1922.

Pieter Cornelis (Piet) Mondriaan (after 1912 Mondrian; March 7, 1872February 1, 1944) was a Dutch painter starting in Dutch impressionism but soon developping abstraction in his landscape paintings. He became leader and inspirator of the De Stijl art movement and group, together with Theo van Doesburg. Mondrian proclamed the 'Neo Plasticism' as a completely new, abstract art.

Quotes[edit]

1910s[edit]

  • Masculine and feminime, vertical and horizontal.
    • Written note beneath a drawing in his sketchbook, 1910/11; Quoted in: Abstract Painting, Michel Seuphor, Dell Publishing Co.,1964, p. 11
  • The surface of things gives enjoyment, their interiority gives life.
    • Written note in his sketchbook, around 1911; Quoted in: Abstract Painting, Michel Seuphor, Dell Publishing Co.,1964, p. 11
  • As you can see this is a composition of vertical and horizontal lines which will (in an abstract manner) have to express the idea of rising upwards, of magnitude. This is the same idea which used, for example, to be the guiding principle in the construction of cathedrals. Since only the manner of expression and not the representation has to express this general idea, I have not given any title. An abstract human mind will, of itself, receive the intended impression. I always confine myself to expressing the general.
    • Letter to Theo van Doesburg, Amsterdam, 1915; as quoted in Letters of the great artists, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 234 (translation Daphne Woodward)
  • Forgive me of saying so, but good things just have to grow very slowly. I say this in connection with your plans.. ..for launching a journal. I do not think that the time is favourable for it. More must be achieved in art in that direction. I hardly know anyone who is really creating art in our style, in other words, art which has arrived.. ..(i.e. you will have to include in it (the journal, fh) what is not consistent with our ideas.
    • Letter to Theo van Doesburg, Amsterdam, Novemer 20, 1915; as quoted in Letters of the great artists, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963, p. 234 (translation Daphne Woodward)
  • This new plastic idea will ignore the particulars of appearance, that is to say, natural form and colour. On the contrary, it should find its expression in the abstraction of form and colour, that is to say, in the straight line and the clearly defined primary colour.
    • Natural Reality and Abstract Reality, Piet Mondrian, 1919 : On neo-plasticism

De Stijl, No. 1, Oktober 1917[edit]

De Stijl, No. 1, Oktober 1917; as quoted in Letters of the great artists, Richard Friedenthal, Thames and Hudson, London, 1963. (translation Daphne Woodward)

  • The cultivated man of today is gradually turning away from natural things, and his life is becoming more and more abstract. Natural (external) things become more and more automatic, and we observe that out vital attention fastens more and more on internal things.. ..Modern man –although a unity of body, mind and soul – exhibits a changed consciousness: every expression of his life has today a different aspect, that is, an aspect more positively abstract. It is the same with art. Art will become the product of another duality in man: the product of cultivated externality and of inwardness deepened and more conscious. As a pure representation of the human mind, art will express itself in an aesthetically purified, that is to say, abstract form.
    • pp. 234-236
  • The new plastic idea cannot, therefore, take the form of concrete representation, although the latter does always indicate the universal to a degree, or at least conceal it within. This new plastic idea will ignore the particulars of appearance, that is to say, natural form and colour. On the contrary it should find its expression in the abstraction of form and colour, that is to say, in the straight line and the clearly defined primary colour.
    • p. 236
Piet Mondriaan in his studio in Pris with Nelly van Doesburg. Amsterdam, Privitcollection.
  • The new plastic idea thus correctly represents actual aesthetic relationships. To the modern artist, it is a natural consequence of all the plastic ideas of the past. This is particularly true for painting, which is the art least bounded to contingencies. The picture can be a pure reflection of life, in its deepest essence.
    • p. 236

1920s and later[edit]

  • Vertical and horizontal lines are the expression of two opposing forces; they exist everywhere and dominate everything; their reciprocal action constitutes ‘life’. I recognized that the equilibrium of any particular aspect of nature rests on the equivalence of its opposites.
    • Plastic Art and Pure Plastic Art, Piet Mondrian, New York: Wittenborn 1945, p. 13; as quoted in Astract Expressionist Painting in America, W.C, Seitz, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1983, p. 55
  • Neo-Plasticism has its roots in Cubism. It could just as easy be called the Painting of Real Abstraction. Since the abstract can be expressed by a plastic reality.. ..It achieves what all painting has tried to achieve but has been able to express only in a veiled manner. By their position and their dimension as well as by the importance of given to colour, the coloured planes express in a plastic way only relations and not forms. Neo-Plasticism imparts to these relations an aesthetic balance and thereby expresses universal harmony.. ..For the moment what art had discovered must still be limited to art itself. Our environment cannot yet be realized as a creation of pure harmony. Art today is at the very point formerly occupied by religion. In its deepest meaning art was the transposition of the natural (to another plane); in practice it always sought to achieve harmony between man and untransposed nature. Generally speaking, so do Theosophy and Anthroposophy, although these already possessed the original symbol of balance. And this is why they never were able to achieve equivalent relations, that is to say true harmony. (1921/23)
    • 'Abstract Painting, Michel Seuphor, Dell Publishing Co.,1964 p. 83-85
  • Art on the contrary sought this harmony in practice (of art itself). More and more in its creations it has given inwardness to that what surrounds us in nature, until, in Neo-Plasticism, nature is no longer dominant. This achievement of balance may prepare the way for the fulfilment of man and signal the end of (what we call) art. (1921/23)
    • , Michel Seuphor, Dell Publishing Co.,1964, p. 85
  • Cubism did not accept the logical consequences of its own discoveries; it was not developing abstraction towards its own goal, the expression of pure reality.
    • Abstract Art, Anna Moszynska, Thames and Hudson, London 1990, p. 50
  • Observing sea, sky and stars, I sought to indicate their plastic function through a multiplicity of crossing verticals and horizontals. Impressed by the vastness of Nature, I was trying to express its expansion, rest and unity.
    • Abstract Art, Anna Moszynska, Thames and Hudson, London 1990, p. 50
  • By the unification of architecture, sculpture and painting a new plastic reality will be created.
    • Abstract Art, Anna Moszynska, Thames and Hudson, London 1990, p. 117

External links[edit]

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