Essay of Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian

Liu yichen


Essay # 1

25th July 2014

At the first glimpse of the photo of Piet Mondrian, I almost recognized him as Adolf Hitler (Figure 1). However, his is not even a Germany and his homeland had suffered both the World War I and the World War II that influenced his painting skills and using of colors. Piet Mondrian (March 7th 1872 – February 1st 1944), a great artist of Netherlands, influenced the modern architecture and designing in multiple ways.

Figure 1

There are 7 periods of time of Piet Mondrian’s lifetime and they are important to mention in the very beginning of each paragraph. There were changes of his paintings in both techniques and using of colors. Moreover, the using of colors were influenced by what he experienced in that time.

His was born in the city named Amersfoort in 1872. From 1880 -1892, he was being taught how to draw by his uncle who is an artist also. He learnt the school of painting that portraying the landscapes of Netherland form his uncle. What we can see from the drawing is that he tried to use colors as close as possible to the colors of real landscape. The color of the sky, the shadow of trees and texture of the turf are the real colors of these static things. Figure 2 is named Dusk. I believe that the day he drew the portray was a sunny day, because the cloud was white and the background of the cloud was blue. In concise, his paintings in this period of time are landscape sketches with colors. However, there is not any sense of three dimensional effect in his portray.

Figure 2 1890 Dusk

From 1907 to 1911, “Mondrian realized that he must go further afield, however, and he chose the best school available in the Netherlands for his advanced education. In the autumn of 1892 he registered at the National Academy of Art in Amsterdam.”((Jaffe, H. L. (n.d.). (p.11)). From the drawing beneath, Figure 3, we can tell that, Mondrian was still stuck in his previous painting style. He was still drawing landscape and filled them with the realistic colors. Cheerfully, we can see that the landscape he drew has much clear boundary than before. There were some changes in his drawing also. The colors that he used became brighter and brisker. Surprisingly, Mondrian drew some orange in this painting that may represent cloud. All of these indicated that he started to get away from the style that the traditionally realistic drawing of Netherland.

Figure 3 1907 The Red Cloud

Figure 4 1908 Woods near Oele

From 1911 to 1914, “Among the Paris items were cubist painting by Braque and Picasso, As far as is known, Mondrian had never brfore seen the modern art of Paris in the original, and what he now saw altered his whole life.”((Jaffe, H. L. (n.d.). (p 15)) Piet Mondrian’s paintings were influenced by cubist. His started to fulfill cubist on his own paintings. Figure 4 may seem very familiar with people who have learnt how to draw, this drawing was an oil painting of a basic static setting. We can see another noticeable feature of figure 4 is that Mondrian used black lines around items which he drew to highlight the objects he sketched. The colors in this painting of him are mainly blue and white.

Figure 5 1911 Still life with GingerpotFigure 6 1914 Compostion No.6

From 1914 to 1919, he called back to his home because of his father’s caught a severe illness. Unfortunately, the World War I began in that year. “On August 4, 1914. German armies crossed into Belgium.”(Jaffe, H. L. (n.d.). (p 15)). The colors, he used during that time tended to gentle and mild. Figure 5 shows the changes of Mondrian’s painting style. In figure 5, Mondrian used bold lines in the middle of the picture, and the lines that towards margin are thinner and lighter. In another word, the lines fade from center to periphery. The colors also gradually fade from middle to boundary. In comparison, the colors that we can find in this painting are greyer than his previous ones. The colors of figure 5 are the colors that ease people’s mood. The span of hues were not far, and the values trend to be whiter. These changes indicated his desire of peace.

From 1919 to 1938, Mondrian began his own style of painting in Paris. He employed more basic elements; Such as cubes, straight lines and right angles in his own works. It is not hard to perceive the colors changed in his paintings. He used colors violently during this period of time. Such as red, orange and blue that made an exaggerate contrast in his paintings. Figure 7. Later on, the lines between cubes that he drew colors in of his paintings became much wider; as a result, the lines which made the boundaries that between colors were emphasized and highlighted. Figure 8.

Figure 7 1919 Compostion Checkerboard, Dark ColorsFigure 8 1930 Composition with red, blue and yellow

From 1938 to 1940, “In the autumn of 1938, just after the dramatic and tragic days of the four-power agreement in Munich concerning Czechoslovakia, Mondrian left France, felling that war was imminent and that Paris was easy prey for the Nazis especially for their Luftwaffe.” (Jaffe, H. L. (n.d.). (p. 152)) The World War II began in 1938. Mondrian left France and went to his next destination, the city of London. The World War II had enormous impact on him. A good thing is, however, he remained the style of his last period; for example, wide straight lines and right angles. Because of the negative impact of the war, the colors of his paintings were faded from the center to the edges. Symmetry started to appear in his paintings. Figure 9. All of these indicate that the internal world of Mondrian was extremely depressed during World War II. His paintings and works showed us that imminent his mood was ruined in that time.

Figure 9 1939 Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue - Dark Page 294

From 1940 to 1944. Mondrian moved to New York City. In there, His paintings merged positive features of all his previous works. He turned back to use various colors. Wide straight lines became to straight lines that involves several colors. Figure 10 is called the Broadway. There were still red, blue and yellow in his painting, at this time his paintings appeared briskness and happiness. The life in New York was cozy and far away from wars, and this is the reason why his paintings looks good.

Figure 10 1942 Broadway Boogie-Woogie


(Figure 1) Michel, S. Pier Mondrian Life and Work. (p. 25).

White: E. A. Carmean, J. (1979). Mondrian the diamond compositions. (p. Page). Washington: National Gallery of Art.

Red: Jaffe, H. L. (n.d.). Piet Mondrian. New York: Harry N. Abrams., J. Piet mondrain. (p. 1111). New York: Harry N. Abrams.

Dark: Michel, S. (n.d.). Pier Mondrian Life and Work. (p. 1111). New York: Harry N. Abrams.

Images references:

            Figure 1: Piet, M. (n.d.). Hans L.C. Jaffé, Piet Mondrian (p. 17). Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York

Figure 2: Piet, M. (1890). Dusk [Oil on canvas]. Hans L.C. Jaffé, Piet Mondrian (p. 67).

Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York

Figure 3: Piet, M. (1907). The red Cloud [Oil on cardboard]. Hans L.C. Jaffé, Piet Mondrian (p. 74). Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York

Figure 4: Piet, M. (1908). Woods near Oele [Oil on canvas]. Hans L.C. Jaffé, Piet Mondrian (p. 78). Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York

            Figure 5: Piet, M. (1911). Still Life with Gingerpot [Oil on canvas]. Hans L.C. Jaffé, Piet Mondrian (p. 67). Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York

Figure 6: Piet, M. (1914). Composition No.6 [Oil on canvas]. Hans L.C. Jaffé, Piet Mondrian (p. 114). Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York

Figure 7: Piet, M. (1919). Composition: Checkerboard, Dark Colors [Oil on canvas]. Hans L.C. Jaffé, Piet Mondrian (p. 130). Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York

Figure 8 : Piet, M. (1930). Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow [Oil on canvas]. Hans L.C. Jaffé, Piet Mondrian (p. 144). Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York

Figure 9: Piet, M. (1905). Trafalgar Square. Michel Seuphor, Pier Mondrian Life and Work (p. 295). Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York

Figure 10: Piet, M. (1942). Broadway [Oil on canvas]. Hans L.C. Jaffé, Piet Mondrian (p. 156). Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York

2 thoughts on “Essay of Piet Mondrian

  1. It was fascinating to see how Mondrian’s style changed from the first to the last painting in your essay. He went from abstract and soft landscapes to bold, dark, and geometrical lines. He was an artist during the most war-torn times and I think it was interesting how his colors and methods were influenced with what was going on in the world. He, without doubt, was not afraid to change how he painted!

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