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Piet Mondrian


Piet Mondrian (1872–1944) is one of the best-known early exponents of abstract art, and a founder member of the de Stijl group, which was influential in the 1920s. His abstract works developed out of his earlier fascination with nature subjects. His bestknown works are compositions in pure primary colours.

Mondrian studied at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam from 1892 to 1897 and began his career as a drawing teacher. He started out as a naturalistic painter, mainly of landscapes, and developed his own style from about 1900. Absorbing different influences such as Pointillism, Symbolism and Cubism, he moved slowly towards abstraction, turning studies from nature into pure geometric forms in the three primary colours yellow, red and blue, with some black and white.

Mondrian’s art was always related to his spiritual and philosophical studies. In 1908 he became interested in the Theosophical movement launched by Madame H.P. Blavatsky, and joined the Dutch branch of the Theosophical Society in 1909. In 1911 Mondrian moved to Paris.

During the First World War Mondrian lived at the Laren artists’ colony in the Netherlands, as did Theo van Doesburg, with whom he founded in 1917 the magazine De Stijl, in which he was to publish his aesthetic theories. One of the most important movements in Dutch art is now known by this name. In 1919 Mondrian returned to Paris. but moved to London in 1938 and then to New York in 1940, where he died four years later.