Piet Mondrian’s career in five paintings

Windmill (c. 1917 (reprise of a compositional series from 1908–1910))Dallas Museum of Art

Piet Mondrian’s grid paintings are only one part of his career. Throughout his life, he explored many styles, from figurative, seen here in his dramatically lit Windmill (1917), to geometric abstraction as he reacted to the cultural and political upheaval of the early 20th Century.

Willow Grove: Impression of Light and Shadow (c. 1905)Dallas Museum of Art

Mondrian first studied in Amsterdam where he began painting landscapes inspired by the sketchy, expressive brushstrokes of the Impressionists. Willow Grove: Impression of Light and Shadow (1905), one of his earlier works draws inspiration directly from nature.

Apple Tree, Pointillist Version (1908–1909)Dallas Museum of Art

In Apple Tree, Pointillist Version (1908) Mondrian combines loose brushwork with the optical theories of Neo-Impressionism by using small dabs of paint to create an image. This marks a shift in his practice as he became increasingly interested in spirituality and truth.

Tableau no. 1 (1913) by Piet MondriaanKröller-Müller Museum

Mondrian’s fragmented and flattened Tableau No. 1 (1913) reflects the influence of Cubism. His embrace of two dimensionality and color theory led to the De Stijl movement that he co-founded with Theo van Doesburg. Their aim was to explore the pure essence of line and color.

Composition with Large Blue Plane, Red, Black, Yellow, and Gray (1921)Dallas Museum of Art

This composition was created just before Mondrian left the De Stijl group to pursue greater abstraction with his Neo-Plastic style. He would continue to reject all figurative elements, instead restricting the palette to primary colors, non-colors, and rectangles. 

Place de la Concorde (1938–1943)Dallas Museum of Art

To the untrained eye, Mondrian’s grid paintings might all look similar. In his mature paintings he experimented with lines of different width and frequency, while letting his colors float unbound by borders, as shown here in Place de la Concorde (1938).

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