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From the age of fourteen, when Mondrian decided to become a painter, he specialized in calm landscapes, often with isolated buildings and shadowy twilight effects of dull gold and silver. Starting around 1908, he was deeply influenced by the bright colors of Fauvism, applied in rows of rectangular brushstrokes to indicate such textures as stonework. But his exposure to the Cubism of Braque and Picasso in 1911 quickly converted him to ever deeper abstraction, and brought him back to the coloration of the poetic works of his early career. The scumbled atmospheric tones of ocher, blue gray, and pink in Composition are typical of this development. Mondrian moved to Paris in 1912 and developed his own luminous style of Cubism with paintings of trees and clusters of buildings. He based a series of compositions, including the Kimbell painting, on the complicated geometry of the streetscape near his studio in Montparnasse. He may have been inspired in part by Monet’s close-up images of Rouen Cathedral from the early 1890s, each recording delicate golden, pink, and blue tones of reflected daylight. In these Cubist-inspired works, Mondrian “drew” his subject with a scaffold of black lines within, across, and around which he delicately added color as if orchestrating atmospheric effects.“The masses generally find my work rather vague,” he wrote in January 1914, around the time he painted Composition. “I construct lines and color combinations on a flat surface, in order to express general beauty with the utmost awareness.”

Details

  • Title: Composition
  • Creator: Piet Mondrian
  • Date: 1914
  • Date Created: 1914
  • Physical Dimensions: 47 1/2 x 39 7/8 in. (120.6 x 101.3 cm)
  • Provenance: S. B. Slijper, Blaricum, The Netherlands. C. G. Hannaert, Laren, The Netherlands, 1915 for fl. 200. Kunsthandel G. J. Nieuwenhuizen Segaar, The Hague, c. 1951-1958; Galerie Beyeler, Basel, 1958; (Sidney Janis Gallery, New York); Sir Edward G.and Lady Hulton [he: 1906-1988], London, 1958-1981; (Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., London) by 1981; (Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York); acquired by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1983; gift of the Burnett Foundation of Fort Worth in memory of Anne Burnett Tandy, 1983.
  • Type: Painting
  • Original Source: Kimbell Art Museum
  • Rights: Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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