home > a lifetime evolution from drawing to painting > from 1914 to 1920

Piet Mondrian, Pier and Ocean 4, 1914 Piet Mondrian, Composition with Color Planes II, 1917 Piet Mondrian, Lozenge with Colors, 1919

A

B

C

Between 1914 and 1917 the horizontal and vertical lines become colored planes. Square forms are now yellow, pink and light blue.

B appears to present a white square in the center surrounded by three magenta, three yellow and one light blue planes. The six planes of the same color endow the central area of the composition with greater stability around a white square. Is the white square perhaps intended to suggest an ideal synthesis of all the colors? A white square will become a constant feature of many compositions after 1920 such as, for instance E.

In C the planes come closer to one another. «Feeling the lack of unity, I grouped the rectangles together: the space became white, black, and gray; the form became red, blue or yellow. Joining the rectangles was equivalent to continuing the verticals and horizontals of the previous period over the entire composition.» (Mondrian)

When the squares of Pier and Ocean 4 diversify also in color, Mondrian is faced with the task of searching for equivalence and unity not only form a formal point of view (horizontal and vertical) but also from the point of view of color (yellow, pink and light blue).

Searching for unity, Mondrian re-defines the composition by means of a proportional grid which determine the variation in size of the different planes (C) and three square proportions come together to form a yellow-pink-blue unit.

Piet Mondrian, Composition B, 1920 Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Black, Yellow, Blue, 1920 Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Blue and Blue-White, 1922

D

E

F

From now on Mondrian works to express a square which is at the same time one and multiple. Why? Because equivalence and unity are the quest of human spirit dealing with inner contradictions and, at the same time, with the manifold aspect of the outer world. This is why the square unit should convey as much diversity as possible.
In Composition B of 1920 (D) Mondrian tries to visualize a large square proportion made of yellow, red, blu, grey and black areas. With respect to the other planes, these areas are identifiable because they follow a given basic module which is lost in the planes around the large square.

The large square is, however, not as much evident as the artist would like and this is why in a following canvas Compostion with Red, Black, Yellow, Blue of 1920 (E) Mondrian goes back to the idea of using a white square to convey in a more explicit way the moment where opposites find an equivalence.

It is important to notice that we use the word „square“ to describe a relationship between horizontal and vertical which is in fact never a preconceived geometrical form. Every square proportion we see is different from the other according to the context: here we see a slightly more vertical square and there a square which expands horizontally. The balance and equivalence between opposites is a dynamic process.

The square reverts to white (E) but in a new work, Composition with Yellow, Blue and Light-Blue of 1922 (F) the unitary synthesis opens up again to a variety of possible configurations. Compared to E, F shows again a loss of the centre and a multiplication of the squares: square 1 and 2 are quite evident whereas 3 opens up toward the top and 4 is defined by a horizontal segment while the color blue stretches the square into a vertical rectangle.

Since Pier and Ocean 4 (A) we see how Mondrian wants to reach for a visible, stable square proportion on one hand and on the other he wishes to open the square unit to the highest possible degree of multiplicity without, however, loosing sight of it.

   

Every Neoplastic composition expresses this dialectic between the changing aspects of life and the human need to stabilize them and find something of greater constancy and duration. A square form keeps space constant while differences in proportion and color change it.

Visualize now how Neoplastic space was born out of this transition.

enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this image enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture enlarge this picture