Many of our past Artists of the Week worked and created their art in Paris, France. Before World War II, Paris was definitely the center of most modern art styles. But during that war, France and all of Europe were under attack by the Nazis, making it difficult for artists. New York City became the new major center of the art world, so the Abstract Art movement took place in the United States.
Abstract art appears to have no subject. Instead, it has colors, shapes, lines, or textures. These abstract paintings have a purpose of expressing emotion or an idea the artist wants to express, even though they might appear to have been created with little thought. They don’t show reality, but they do have a purpose and much thought behind them.
Piet Mondrian with some of his paintings
Composition No. 2 by Mondrian
This week we will feature two Artists, both abstract. Our first Artist of the Week is Piet Mondrian from the Netherlands. Our painting of the week is Composition No. 2.
Mondrian's The Red Tree
Mondrian's The Gray Tree
Mondrian developing an abstract art syle
Mondrian, like many abstract artists, originally started as a more traditional painter. He began using some Cubist techniques within his series of paintings of trees.
from Mondrian's tree series
From Mondrian's tree series
Mondrian experimented with ways of breaking the tree up into lines and planes.
Mondrian's Composition 11
His tree paintings grew more and more abstract as he experimented.
Mondrian tacked up large paper rectangles to cover flaws in his studios walls. He added smaller colored paper squares and rectangles and shifted them to a pleasing composition. This moving and adding of paper blocks to his wall became a process Mondrian used before beginning a painting.
Mondrian became known for a painting style that used only vertical and horizontal black lines and primary color rectangles. The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. He called his method “Neoplasticism” or “the new plastic”. Mondrian placed the shapes and colors in his simplistic paintings to create a sense of balance. Many of his paintings have white backgrounds. Composition No. 2, our painting of the week, has a gray background.
Museum of Modern Art
Many of Mondrian’s paintings can be viewed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Museum of Modern Art in New york City
The Museum of Modern Art is often just called MoMa for short. It was founded in 1929 to help people understand and enjoy the arts of modern times.
It is probably the most influential museum of modern art in the world today. 2.5 million visitors tour MoMa each year.
The museum’s collection covers sculpture, paintings, illustrations, architecture, films, and more.
Exhibit inside MoMa
Mondrian's later style and influence
Mondrian's Victory Boogie Woogie
While Mondrian's works of the 1920s and 1930s tend to have an almost scientific style, he later began creating brighter, livelier paintings. These were inspired by upbeat Boogie Woogie music.
Broadway Boogie Woogie by Mondrian
Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie-Woogie has shimmering squares of color that bring to mind the neon lights of Broadway. The painting shows New York City from a top-down birdseye view with the yellow squares representing taxis.
Yves Saint Laurent fashion influenced by Mondrian
Mondrian’s art style had an effect on pop culture. Yves Saint-Laurent designed dresses based on Mondrian’s art. His easily recognizable style can be found on many types of objects.
YouTube video - Famous Paintings Mondrian [shows progression of Mondrian’s painting styles] (1:29)
YouTube video - A history of Mondrian's work done in hand-drawn animation with Boogie Woogie music, which Mondrian loved 1978] (2:23 min.)
YouTube video - Abstract Painting Kandinsky and Mondrian/Music [Art Lesson] (9:11)
YouTube video - How to Make Your Own Piet Mondrian Painting (3:52)
YouTube video - Mondrian Collage – art project for K (11:23 min.)