Piet Mondrian’s work is known for his use of red, yellow and blue in his paintings. By 1921 he had begun to paint only in these primary colours, combining them with white planes and black lines. From his early successes in 1900 painting Dutch landscapes, Mondrian developed into the pioneer of Colour Field painting. The exhibition Mondrian. Colour will examine this central aspect of the artist’s oeuvre.
Initially, Mondrian saw colour as the material of reality in the tradition of Rembrandt. The earthy colours of the landscape dominated his early work. Goethe’s theory of colours drew his attention for the first time to the primary colours. Paintings in blue and red attest to his interest in theosophy. He discovered the colour of light beneath the glittering impression of the summer sun shining on the sea. In his dune paintings, Mondrian transformed colour to create abstract works of art. During his Cubist period he developed a structure of lines that allowed him to apply colour without relying on the object itself. He painted numerous variations of colours in perpetually changing relationships in a never ending series of images. In his experiments, Mondrian sought a universal harmony that could automatically be understood by viewers. This effect appears when one encounters the original works in which one can clearly see his working method. The paintings, which seem so deliberately planned, were created during a long process in which Mondrian applied the paint layer by layer, always in response to the colours.
The exhibition brings together 40 loans from the Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, which holds the largest collection of Mondrian’s works. Further loans come from museums and private collections in Europe and the USA. Following its stay in Hamburg, Mondrian. Colours will be shown at Tuner Contemporary in Margate, Kent.
Piet Mondrian: Komposition mit großer roter Fläche, Gelb, Schwarz, Grau und Blau, 1921, © 2013 Mondrian / Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International USA