Piet Mondrian Biography

Name at birth: Pieter Cornelius Mondriaan, Jr.

Piet Mondrian was a 20th century abstract painter whose most famous compositions are made up of black lines and colored rectangles. Mondrian's early works were naturalistic and impressionistic landscapes, but his discovery of cubism around 1910 put him on the path toward pure abstraction. He left his home in the Netherlands for Paris in 1912, but returned to the Netherlands in 1914 to care for his sick father. He remained there during World War I, exploring abstract forms and formulating an approach he called neo-plasticism. Back in Paris after the war, he made what may be his most famous painting, Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue (1921), a composition of primary colors in rectangles on a grid of black lines. In 1938 he went to England and in 1940 he moved to New York, where he continued to discard "non-essentials" and restrict his works to "basic forms of beauty." Influenced by the philosophical approach of theosophy, Mondrian believed painting to be a two-dimensional interpretation of nature that is guided by the artist's intuition. His paintings include Still Life with Ginger Pot I (1911), Composition (1916) and Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942-43).

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