Composition in Colours / Composition No. I with Red and Blue

Piet Mondrian1931

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza

Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza
Madrid, Spain

Piet Mondrian was the foremost representative of the geometrical trend in abstract art at the Cubism and Abstract Art exhibition staged in 1936 by Alfred Barr, the first director of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Barr defined this trend as “the shape of the square confronts the silhouette of the amoeba” and distinguished it from the other, more biomorphic and organic abstract current represented by artists such as Kandinsky and Miró. Although his links to the Dutch Neo-Plasticist group De Stijl were severed in 1925 owing to disagreements with Van Doesburg, Mondrian devoted his whole life and oeuvre to investigating the balance between orthogonal forms and primary colours. This impassioned pursuit of the plastic equivalent of a universal truth makes him one of the most prominent figures of the modern movement. During the course of this process of stripping plastic language to its bare essentials, to a simple weave of verticals and horizontals, the grid structure appeared in his work and, as Rosalind Krauss has pointed out, thereafter became an emblem of modern desires in the field of the visual arts.


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