Piet Mondriaan, Devotion, 1908, Oil on canvas, 94 x 61 cm, © 2007 Mondriaan / Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International, Virginia, USA.

 

Piet Mondriaan, The Grey Tree, 1911, oil on canvas, 79,7 x 109,1 cm. Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag © 2007 Mondrian/Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International, Warrenton (VA, USA)

Myths and Misconceptions of Piet Mondrian's Calculation Put to Rest

Piet Mondriaan, Flowering appletree, 1912, Oil on canvas, 78,5 x 107,5 cm, © 2007 Mondriaan / Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International, Virginia, USA.

Piet Mondriaan, Evolution, 1910-1911, Den Haag Gemeentnmuseum, Hague.

Piet Mondriaan, Tableau I, 1921, Oil on canvas, 103 x 100 cm. © 2007 Mondriaan / Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International, Virginia, USA.

 

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Stadhouderslaan 41
+ 31-(0)70-3381111
Den Haag
Piet Mondriaan Collectie Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
April 26-October 26, 2008

To coincide with the Mondriaan in Cologne exhibition, a book was published entitled Mondriaan. Collectie Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. It puts to rest the popular notion that Piet Mondriaan was a cold, mathematically-minded man and reveals that he was an artist engaged in a passionate quest for a formal language in which to paint. He never followed any rational, preconceived program, but felt his way through a process of trial and error until he arrived at something that felt right to him. His radiant paintings are back home on show, illustrating this new view of Mondriaan’s artistic evolution.

In the new exhibition, as in the book, curator and Mondriaan expert Hans Janssen rejects the common assumption that Mondriaan’s work displays a predominantly rigid, linear pattern of development. Taking the actual paintings and water colours as his point of departure, Janssen provides a completely different perspective. Using explanatory texts and groups of contemporaneous works with the same subject (such as farmhouses or landscapes), or works with the same subject but differing dates, or works that seem for stylistic reasons to have been produced at around the same time, Janssen shows that Mondriaan proceeded via a repetitive and improvisional process of trial and error over particular periods until he achieved a result he found truly satisfying.

With the exception of the commissioned works made to order, he never knew exactly what he wanted to achieve when he started work on a piece. In fact, Mondriaan emerges from the exhibition as an extraordinarily flexible and adaptable artist.

The exhibition also shows that Mondriaan was far from being the lone wolf making his own way in artistic isolation that Modernist critics have always suggested; on the contrary, he was influenced by his environment and the people around him.

A number of artists with whom Mondriaan worked at various times — including Ferdinand Hart Nibbrig, Jacoba van Heemskerk, Jan Toorop, and his co-founders of De Stijl — played a demonstrable role in his life and artistic development. The works on show reveal the reciprocal influences that resulted from their shared quest for the ultimate work of art and the conclusions to which they came.

The Gemeentemuseum Den Haag possesses the largest Mondriaan collection in the world. It illustrates the entire evolution of the artist’s oeuvre, from his early figurative work right through to his final abstract masterpiece, Victory Boogie Woogie. Over recent years, that particular work has been the subject of in-depth study. The results will be presented at a public meeting on the morning of Saturday 30 August 2008.

The lavishly illustrated and informative new Dutch-language catalogue of the collection is published by Waanders and is available from the museum shop (or via shop.gemeente
museum.nl) and bookshops (price: € 24.95).

Piet Mondriaan, Compostion No. 6, 1914, oil on canvas, 88 x 61 cm. © 2007 Mondriaan / Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International, Virginia, USA.

Piet Mondriaan, The Grey Tree, 1911, oil on canvas, 79,7 x 109,1 cm. Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag © 2007 Mondrian/Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International, Warrenton (VA, USA)

 

Piet Mondriaan, Molen (Mill); Mill in Sunlight, 1908, Oil on canvas, 114 x 87 cm, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague.

Early-Career Piet Mondriaan by the Sea in the Light of Zeeland

Piet Mondriaan, Lighthouse at Westkapelle in orange, 1910, oil on canvas, 135 x 75 cm. © 2007 Mondriaan / Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International, Virginia.

 

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Stadhouderslaan 41
+ 070-3381111
Den Haag
Light of Zeeland, Mondriaan in Domburg
April 18-August 5, 2007

n the early 20th century, the resort of Domburg in Zeeland had a strong appeal for well-known Dutch artists like Jan Toorop, Jacoba van Heemskerck and Piet Mondriaan.

Jan Toorop (1858-1928) first came across the little bathing resort of Domburg in 1903. It was he who drew Piet Mondriaan’s attention to its picturesque qualities. In 1908, Toorop showed his Domburg canvases at the annual exhibition of the St. Luke’s artists’ association in Amsterdam, and in doing so influenced a younger generation like Jan Sluijters, Leo Gestel, Mies Elout-Drabbe, Jacoba van Heemskerck and Piet Mondriaan, who all soon adopted the Luminist style.

At the 1910 St. Luke’s exhibition — at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum –— Mondriaan’s Domburg work was the centre of attention. It comprised paintings that he made in 1909 and 1910, like Summer, Dunes in Zeeland, Sun, Church in Zeeland, House in Sunlight, Zeeland Girl, and Zeeland Farmer. These works, in which Mondriaan increasingly relinquished realism, shocked the public by their innovative appearance.

To prepare for the first exhibition of the Modern Art Circle in 1911, Mondriaan travelled to Paris. Here he encountered Cubists like Henri Le Fauconnier, Picasso and Braque. Cubism represented a major step in Mondriaan’s efforts to free himself from the confines of visual reality. But the reviews of the Cubist works he subsequently showed at the exhibition (including Dune Landscape) were scathing. The forms were perceived as bizarre; as yet the public could see no deeper meaning in Cubism.

Between late 1911 and August 1915 Mondriaan stayed alternately in Paris and the Netherlands, where he paid regular visits to Domburg. His 1914-15 Domburg series, with subjects like the church, trees, the sea and groynes, shows a fascinating progression in which Mondriaan gradually painted less and less realistically, paring his canvases down to an interplay of horizontal and vertical lines. In time, diagonal and curved lines disappeared from his works, and their titles ceased to reflect their subjects. They were referred to as ‘compositions’, followed by a number or a colour. Mondriaan distanced himself more and more from realistic representation, increasingly distilling reality into theoretical concept. In 1914 Mondriaan moved to Laren in North Holland, where he remained until 1919, ultimately settling in New York after periods in Paris and London.

A (Dutch-language) publication by the Dutch Forestry Service entitled ‘Zeeuws Licht’ will be on sale at the exhibition. It contains articles on the area’s origins, land reclamation along the coast, the history of the resort and of the artists’ colony (with emphasis on Piet Mondriaan) written by Marcel van Ool, Anton van Haperen and Matthijs Schouten.

Piet Mondriaan, Evening; Red Tree, 1908, detail, Oil on canvas, 25.5 x 39 cm, Collection Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, © 2007 Mondriaan / Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International Warrenton, Virginia.

Piet Mondriaan, Flowering appletree, 1912, oil on canvas, 78,5 x 107,5 cm. © 2007 Mondriaan / Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International, Virginia, USA.