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Piet Mondrian (Pieter)

Piet Mondrian (Pieter) Biography

born Amersfoort, Netherlands 1872 died New York, NY (USA) 1944

Piet Mondrian was born Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan, Jr., on March 7, 1872, in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. He studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam, from 1892 to 1897. Until 1908, when he began to take annual trips to Domburg in Zeeland, Mondrian's work was naturalistic, incorporating successive influences of academic landscape and still-life painting, Dutch Impressionism [more], and Symbolism [more].

In 1909, a major exhibition of his work (with that of Jan Sluyters and Cornelis Spoor) was held at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and that same year he joined the Theosophic Society.

In 1909 and 1910, he experimented with Pointillism and by 1911 had begun to work in a Cubist mode. After seeing original Cubist works by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso at the first Moderne Kunstkring exhibition in 1911 in Amsterdam, Mondrian decided to move to Paris. There, from 1912 to 1914, he began to develop an independent abstract style.

Mondrian was visiting the Netherlands when World War I broke out and prevented his return to Paris. During the war years in Holland, he further reduced his colors and geometric shapes and formulated his non-objective Neo-Plastic style. In 1917, Mondrian became one of the founders of De Stijl [more]. This group, which included Theo van Doesburg, Bart van der Leck, and Georges Vantongerloo, extended its principles of abstraction and simplification beyond painting and sculpture to architecture and graphic and industrial design.

Mondrian's essays on abstract art were published in the periodical De Stijl. In July 1919, he returned to Paris; there he exhibited with De Stijl in 1923, but withdrew from the group after van Doesburg reintroduced diagonal elements into his work around 1925. In 1930, Mondrian showed with Cercle et Carri and in 1931 joined Abstraction-Creation. World War II forced Mondrian to move to London in 1938 and then to settle in New York in October 1940.

In New York, he joined American Abstract Artists and continued to publish texts on Neo-Plasticism. His late style evolved significantly in response to the city. In 1942, his first solo show took place at the Valentine Dudensing Gallery, New York. Mondrian died February 1, 1944, in New York.

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  • Molen Mill; Mill in Sunlight (1908)
  • Avond Evening; Red Tree (1908)
  • Chrysanthemum (1908)
  • Windmill by the Water (1908)
  • Landscape (1909)
  • The Red Tree (1909-10)
  • Amaryllis (1910)
  • Evolution (1910-11)
  • The Red Mill (1910-11)
  • Gray Tree (1911)
  • Horizontal Tree (1911)
  • Still Life with Ginger Pot I (Cubist) (1911) Guggenheim Collection.
  • Still Life with Ginger Pot II (Simplified) (1912) Guggenheim Collection.
  • Apple Tree in Bloom (1912)
  • Trees (1912-1913)
  • Scaffoldings (1912-1914)
  • Composition No. II; Composition in Line and Color (1913)
  • Ocean 5 (1915)
  • Composition III with Color Planes (1917)
  • Composition with Color Planes and Gray Lines 1 (1918)
  • Composition with Gray and Light Brown (1918)
  • Composition with Grid VII (1919)
  • Composition: Checkerboard, Dark Colors (1919)
  • Composition A: Composition with Black, Red, Gray, Yellow, and Blue (1920)
  • Composition with Black, Red, Gray, Yellow, and Blue (1920)
  • Tableau I (1921)
  • Lozenge Composition with Yellow, Black, Blue, Red, and Gray (1921)
  • Composition with Large Blue Plane, Red, Black, Yellow, and Gray (1921)
  • Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue (1921)
  • Composition with Blue, Yellow, Black, and Red (1922)
  • Composition #2 (1922)
  • Lozenge Composition with Red, Black, Blue, and Yellow (1925)
  • Lozenge Composition with Red, Gray, Blue, Yellow, and Black (1925)
  • Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue (1927)
  • Fox Trot; Lozenge Composition with Three Black Lines (1929)
  • Composition with Yellow Patch (1930)
  • Composition with Yellow (1930)
  • Composition with Blue and Yellow (1932)
  • Composition No. III Blanc-Jaune (1935-42)
  • Rhythm of Straight Lines (1935-42) Harvard University.
  • Rhythm of Black Lines painting) (1935-42)
  • Composition blanc, rouge et jaune or Composition in White, Black and Red (1936)
  • Vertical Composition with Blue and White (1936)
  • Abstraction (1937-42)
  • Composition No. 8 (1939-42)
  • Painting #9 (1939-42)
  • Composition No. 10 (1939-1942)
  • New York City I (1942)
  • Broadway Boogie-Woogie (1942-43) Museum of Modern Art.
  • Place de la Concorde (1943)
  • Victory Boogie-Woogie (1943-44)


  • "The position of the artist if humble. He is essentially a channel."
  • "I construct lines and color combinations on a flat surface, in order to express general beauty with the utmost awareness. Nature (or, that which I see) inspires me, puts me, as with any painter, in an emotional state so that an urge comes about to make something, but I want to come as close as possible to the truth and abstract everything from that, until I reach the foundation (still just an external foundation!) of things…"
  • "I believe it is possible that, through horizontal and vertical lines constructed with awareness, but not with calculation, led by high intuition, and brought to harmony and rhythm, these basic forms of beauty, supplemented if necessary by other direct lines or curves, can become a work of art, as strong as it is true"


  • Piet Mondrian - by Joop M. Joosten, Harry N. Abrams (September 1, 1996)
  • Mondrian - by John Milner, Phaidon Press; Reprint edition (April 1, 1995)
  • Complete Mondrian - by Marty Bax, Lund Humphries Publishers (January 2002)
  • Natural Reality and Abstract Reality: An Essay in Trialogue Form/1919-1920 - by Piet Mondrian, George Braziller Inc (February 1995)
  • Mondrian Cameo (Great Modern Masters Series) - by Jose Maria Faerna, Harry N. Abrams (February 1, 1997)

Quick Facts

  • Mondrian's paintings exhibit a complexity that belies their apparent simplicity.
  • He is best known for his non-representational paintings that he called "compositions", consisting of rectangular forms of red, yellow, blue, white or black, separated by thick, black rectilinear lines. They are the result of a stylistic evolution that occurred over the course of nearly 30 years and continued beyond that point to the end of his life.
  • Mondrian's art was always intimately related to his spiritual and philosophical studies.
  • While in Paris, the influence of the style Cubism of Picasso and Braque appeared almost immediately in Mondrian's work.
  • In September 1938, Mondrian left Paris in the face of advancing fascism and moved to London.
  • His painting Broadway Boogie-Woogie (1942-43) at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City was highly influential in the school of abstract geometric painting.
  • Molly Ringwald's character (Andie) in Pretty in Pink prominently displays three Mondrian paintings in her room.
  • In the opening sequence of the Green Acres, there is a Mondrian visible in the New York Apartment.
  • Along with Klee and Kandinsky, Piet Modrian was one of the largest inspirations to the early pointillistic musical aesthetic of serialist composer Pierre Boulez.
  • The British drama Hustle dedicates a show to Mondrian's work.
  • Piet programming language is an esoteric programming language named after Piet Mondrian
  • The Silverchair album Young Modern features Mondrian influenced cover art.


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