Self-Portrait, 1918

Self-Portrait, 1918


"Compostion with Red,
Blue, and Yellow," 1930

Broadway Boogie-Woogie

"Broadway Boogie-Woogie,"
his final painting

Past Masters:
Mondrian on Abstraction

This series of trees shows
his progression to
the abstract

The Red Tree

"The Red Tree," 1909-10

The Gray Tree

"The Gray Tree," 1911

The Red Tree

"Flowering Appletree," 1912

The following excerpts are from the essay "Plastic Art & Pure Plastic Art" (1937) by Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) published in Modern Artists on Art, edited by Robert L. Herbert (Prentice-Hall, 1964).

Although Art is fundamentally everywhere and always the same, nevertheless two main human inclinations, diametrically opposed to each other, appear in its many and varied expressions. One aims at the direct creation of universal beauty, the other at the esthetic expression of oneself, in other words, of that which one thinks and experiences. The first aims at representing reality objectively, the second subjectively. Thus we see in every work of figurative art the desire, objectively to represent beauty, solely through form and color, in mutually balanced relations, and, at the same time, an attempt to express that which these forms, colors, and relations arouse in us. This latter attempt must of necessity result in an individual expression which veils the pure representation of beauty. Nevertheless, both the two opposing elements (universal-individual) are indispensable if the work is to arouse emotion. Art had to find the right solution. In spite of the dual nature of the creative inclinations, figurative art has produced a harmony through a certain coordination between objective and subjective expression. For the spectator, however, who demands a pure representation of beauty, the individual expression is too predominant. For the artist the search for a unified expression through the balance of two opposites has been, and always will be, a continual struggle.

Throughout the history of culture, art has demonstrated that universal beauty does not arise from the particular character of the form, but from the dynamic rhythm of its inherent relationships, or--in a composition--from the mutual relations of forms. Art has shown that it is a question of determining the relations. It has revealed that the forms exist only for the creation of relationships; that forms create relations and that relations create forms. In this duality of forms and their relations, neither takes precedence.��

Copyright 2005, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont

Return to Gallery Walk Archives for articles in past issues

Go to Gallery Walk home page