Dutch Language Blog

Piet Mondriaan Posted by on Aug 17, 2010 in Dutch Language

I remember being on an excursion to a museum as a kid. Mondriaan’s (in other countries often known as “Mondrian”) work was hanging there and the famous: “I could have made that” sentence passed my neighbors lips. Even though I must have used those words myself one dark day in the past, this time it annoyed me. I looked at the complex lines and was fascinated. What did it mean? Why did it make me feel comfortable or weirded out? And most of all, who the hell was Mondriaan?

Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan (1872 – 1944) was born in Amersfoort. He got his first lessons in painting from his uncle, Frits Mondriaan. He received several painting certificates and kept on studying at the Rijksacademie of Amsterdam. During this period he mainly painted landscapes.

It didn’t take long before Mondriaan developed a more personal style. After 1897 he lived in Brabant and Overijsel for a while, where he got inspired by the work of the Divisionists. This style is defined by the separation of colors by individual patches or dots. Those dots or patches interact optically for the viewer. The paintings he drew in Zeeland mostly show how he got influenced by this style.

Abstraction became more and more Mondriaans style. While searching for his artistic place in the world, he also investigated this place for him as a human being. In 1909 he joined the Theosophical Society, a society that sees the love for human and animal as the ideal. Religion, philosophy occultism played a big part in this way of living.

Like many painters before him, Mondriaan moved to Paris after getting in touch with the French cubism. He stayed there for three years before he returned to Holland, where he created his first abstract and geometric paintings.

After the First World War Mondriaan decided to go back to Paris. He left in 1938 because the war came too close for his liking. He went to London and later on to the United States, where New York would be his last place of rest. He developed a style where only the colors red, blue and yellow were used. The colors black, white and grey left the stage completely, just as all the other colors besides the three chosen ones. He made his compositions based on his intuition and at the same time kept harmony in his work.

Mondriaan died in February 1944 from ammonia and got buried on the Cypress Hill Cemetery in New York.

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  1. Julia:

    To my shame I didn’t know that he was Dutch and I think you meant ‘pneumonia’ 🙂

  2. Ashutosh:

    Nice article. And I am impressed that you can decipher some meaning out of those colorful rectangls. But did you mean pneumonia?

  3. Paul Meijer:

    I doubt that Mondrian died from ammonia!
    More likely pneumonia.
    Paul Meijer