These pages inform about the studies Michael Sciam has done on Piet Mondrian's oeuvre during the past thirty-two years.
Sciam is not an art historian, a critic nor a curator of events. He is an artist; painter, photographer and art theorist.
Artists are the source for the work historians, critics and curators do years later. o >

These pages inform also about the reactions of cultured personalities, the public and some museums. Others, more concerned with themselves, ignored Sciam's contribution. The most eclatant case is that of Hans Janssen, curator at the Haags Gemeentemuseum, now Kunstmuseum Den Haag. How does an independent artist dare to show him what he was not able to see? More on this here. o>

 

abstract art explained by an abstract artist

This is what Sciam says about his studies on Mondrian. o>

The following links show the results of his studies:

First essay on Broadway Boogie Woogie (1987-1990). Published on the monthly magazine L'Architettura (September 1991). o>

"An Explanation of Piet Mondrian's Oeuvre" (1987-2006). Book published by Associazione Culturale Nuova (2006). o>

A web site (www.pietmondrian.eu) presenting a digital format of the 2006 revised book (English, German and Italian text).o>

A web site (www.pietmondrian.it) presenting a virtual exhibition of Mondrian's oeuvre (1893 - 1944) (Italian text). o>

"Mondrian Sehen Lernen" : a sequence of 12 pdf tables explain Mondrian's oeuvre (German text). o>

"Saper vedere Mondrian" : a sequence of 12 pdf tables explain Mondrian's oeuvre (Italian text). o>

"A Lifetime Evolution" : A comparative study of four paintings shows a synthesis of Mondrian's lifetime evolution process o>

 

cultured personalities who welcomed these studies

Michel Seuphor : an artist and poet; a good friend of Mondrian; they worked together in Paris during the 1920's. Seuphor wrote the first biography of the Dutch master in 1956.o>

Bruno Zevi : an architect, critic and professor in history of architecture; a good friend of Frank Lloyd Wright. o>

Giulio Carlo Argan : an art historian and professor of modern art at the university of Rome. o>

Joop M. Joosten : an art historian; research curator emeritus at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, co-author with Robert Welsh of the Catalogue Raisonée of Mondrian's oeuvre. Mr. Joosten wrote to Sciam: "I think the way you approach Mondrian's work is a substantial contribution to the exploration of the significance of Mondrian's work". o>

Italo Tomassoni : an art historian and critic, he has published an essay on Piet Mondrian in 1968. o>

Jolanda Nigro-Covre : an art historian who wrote a book on Piet Mondrian and De Stijl (1990) among other books on modern art. o >

In April 2009 Sciam has sent an extract of his studies on Mondrian to the Fondazione Filiberto Menna in Salerno (Italy).
Sciam has had Menna as professor at the university of Rome. Among others, Menna wrote a beautiful book on Piet Mondrian.
Sciam attended with him a course called "Istituzioni di Storia dell'Arte" and passed the examination discussing Mondrian.
Unfortunately he died at the age of 62 before he could see the results of Sciam's studies.

Others were thankful but did not say much. Visitors to the above listed web pages found them very interesting and asked for paper copies; the same was with people attending seminars and lectures Sciam has given throughout the years in Italy, Germany, United States and Israel.

 

some feed-back from the public

Sciam has had positive and sometime enthusiastic response from people he was able to meet during seminars and lectures he has held in Germany, Italy, USA and Israel. Here please find some comments from unknown people around the world showing interest and appreciation after consulting some of the above listed web pages. o>

 

the acknowledgement of some museums

The Stedelijksmuseum, Amsterdam NL, has included a documentation of Sciam's studies in their library. o>oo

The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, has included a documentation of Sciam's studies in their digital archive. o> oo

NYC MoMA has included Sciam's studies (paper format) in their Library, Archives and Study Centers o>

The Kunsthaus Zürich has included Sciam's studies (paper format) in their public art library. o>

So did the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo NL. o>

Die Neuenationalgalerie in Berlin and the Galleria d'Arte Moderna in Rome have thankfully acknowledged receipt.

 

and the miserable reaction of some curators

The Gemeentemuseum (Kunstmuseum Den Haag) is prejudicially not interested in Sciam's contribution. o>

The director at the Mondriaanhuis, Amersfoort, NL is not interested either. o>o in progress

Museum Wiesbaden in Germany did not even bother answering. They had a Mondrian exhibition organized together with the Haags Gemeentemuseum. This kind of curators support each other. Shall we talk about a curator and director mafia? o>o i. p.

Kaiser Wilhelm Museum Krefeld, which owns some paintings by Mondrian, never answered either.
This museum is presently undergoing a judiciary cause involving a supposedly misappropriation of four Mondrian's paintings.
Another example of the poor sense of ethics some directors and curators nowadays have. o>o i. p.

Piet Mondrian was a painter and, for those who can see, the core of his thought unveils through forms and colors.
Believing in a social and didactic role of art, the artist dedicated his oeuvre "aux hommes futures" (to future mankind). In order to explain his new vision of reality Mondrian wrote some text. If the present management at museums such as the NY MoMA explain Broadway Boogie Woogie as a representation of "New York City traffic and Broadway lights" (see this), I am afraid we still have a long way to go before the public will be given a chance to understand what Piet Mondrian has really done.

Mondrian wrote: "A true critic can, simply by drawing upon the depths of his humanity and observing with purity, write about the new forms of art even without a knowledge of the working technique (...). But a true critic is somewhat rare."

Why does all of this this happen? Christian Grote asked Michael Sciam:

 

MS: Well, there are many reasons.. The first which comes to my mind is that museums are today managed like business companies.
A museum director is very often someone whose main function is not much to improve the knowledge and understanding of art but, rather, to improve the number of visitors and increase the turnover of the company he works for. It is just enough to make visitors believe they have been part of a great event. Mr. Paolo Colombo, who used to manage the MAXXI in Rome, said once to me: "it does not matter whether the public really understands."

 

CG: I see but, nevertheless, people who manage museums have studied art history at universities.


MS: This is correct and this is often the reason why they know everything about letters and dates but show limited abilities when it comes to see and explain painting for what painting really is, that is to say, the ability to express nature and life through meaningful relationship of forms and colors. When masterly used, such as in the case of Mondrian forms and colors can convey a great deal of content. Mr. Hans Janssen, who works for the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, said he was not interseted in my studies because he found them "formalistic". I have asked what did Mondrian do thoughout his entire life if not translating life into forms and colors. No answer ever came.

You see, these people have long and diligently studied art at school and after winning a government context, now sit in comfortable armchairs paid with public money. They therefore believe to be a reliable source of knowledge. These academicians surely know every single date and each letter Mondrian wrote and have quite often used these letters in the attempt to explain his paintings. Writing about two fully abstract compositions Mondrian painted in 1919, in a 2005 catalogue Mr. Hans Janssen still talks about a morning and an evening sky. How could they possibly accept that an artist, who did not publish so many sparkling catalogues, would suggest how to see Mondrian?

 

CG: And you think the fact that they are paid with public money prevents them to be cultured people?

 

MS: Cultured people? We should first agree about the meaining of "cultured". Just to make an example: Alfred Barr Jr. (former director at NYC MoMA) was a cultured person. I am afraid that the present director of that museum cannot be defined as such.

Paul Cézanne said: "Art is like a religion, its goal is to elevate thought". Light-years away from today's north-american mentality.

Today`s directors and curators do not perceive culture and especially art as a mean to open minds and elevate thought. They couldn't care less about spiritual issues. Their enthusiasm is for glamour and revenues. It is a sort of virus which has contaminated today's society. You find the same level of greedy superficiality in politics, finance, media etc. Private interest and the cult of personality prevail today on the common interest.

Art shows that we are all parts of a much wider "design" where each individuality is no longer so important as some people believe.
Mondrian said: "until man will be dominated by his fleeting individuality instead of cultivating his essence, which is universal, he will look for and find his own person only."

Each artist adds a single ring to an endless chain we are all part of. Scholars, professors, directors and curators should have this attitude. For the sake of art and progress of thought we should be able to share our findings and knowledge. When I sent out the results of my studies to Seuphor, Zevi, Joosten, Argan, Nigro-Covre, Tpmassoni, Blotkamp, they reacted expressing gratitude and sharing their view on them. Unfortunately these kind of great minds are no longer available on today's public scene.

 

CG: Okay, but you have to deal with what is available today. Moreover, these people have all the visibility they want and the power of the media whereas you have "only the power of ideas"... And in this kind of reality If you do not get along with them you are out of the games..

 

MS: You have used the right word: "games". That's what you have to face when you approach this kind of people. I am not the first and probably not the last one who has to deal with such devious manners. Think of all the great artists who found obstacles on their way.
Albert Einstein said: "Great spirits always encountered encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds".

You know what most disturb me about all of this? Not only I had to improve their job but I also have to waste my time explaining to them the reasons why I had to do that. I have to show them how, where and when they have missed the point and therefore did not properly fulfill their duty...

 

CG: Well, they were probably not always able to..

 

MS: Yes and they seem to forget that it could be worth every once in a while listening to what some artists have to say about art. After all Piet Mondrian was an artist, not an art historian, a critic or a curator. These people are very well paid; I am not and I have to teach them how to see. This would be okay with me if they would at least open their mind. What is not okay is that they use their power to censor my work and prevent people to know about their inabilities and most important to learn more about Mondrian's oeuvre.

 

CG: Well, let me tell you.. it is somehow naive of you to expect they will admit their mediocrity. They do not share the passion you have when you talk about Mondrian and art in general. They are not artists. They can be defined as employees dealing with cultural issues... They cannot fully understand what art is all about. At the end they are not different from their predecessors who refused Piet Mondrian access to the Prix of Rome. However, time plays in your favour... As usual with real artists.
You paint.. Don't you? And you write as well about art... And your writings disturb the establishment..

At your place I would only be proud..

 

 

news

The Discovery of Mondrian, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague (now Kunstmuseum Den Haag), review: "How much branding can a dead man take? It's a total disgrace."o>

 

 

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