Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian

Style: The Style, Cubism

Lived: March 7, 1872 - February 1, 1944 (19th - 20th century)

Nationality: Netherlands


Born as Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan Jr. in Amersfoort (The Netherlands) on March 7, 1872, his future lay in teaching. Piet Mondrian's father, who was also a teacher, wished that his son with follow in his footsteps. Piet Mondrian earned his diploma in teaching but decided In 1892 to enter the Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam.


Piet Mondrian was heavily influenced by what he learned at the Academy of Fine Arts. Mondrian's first works were classical landscape and still-life impressionistic paintings. In 1909 and 1910 Mondrian experimented with symbolism and cubism. It was after visiting an exhibition of Braque and Picasso (the two founders of Cubism) that Mondrian decided to move to Paris, the heart of visual arts.

Soon after his arrival in Paris, Mondrian reached international fame with exhibitions in Paris and Berlin. Mondrian didn't make a living by selling his own work, but instead he sold works he copied at The Louvre. In Paris he first started developing his own abstract style.


In 1914 when World War I began, Mondrian was visiting his home country and was unable to return to Paris. During the war years, Mondrian continued reducing the geometrical shapes and colors in his paintings which defined his neo-plasticism, also known as The Style (De Stijl). This movement which included Theo van Doesburg, Bart van der Leck, and Georges Vantongerloo, extended its principles of abstraction and simplification beyond painting and sculpture to architecture and graphic and industrial design. Their newly founded magazine 'De Stijl' contained several essays on abstract art of Mondrian. In July 1919 Mondrian returned to Paris, where he decided to withdraw from The Style when the artist van Doesburg introduced diagonal elements into his work.


When Hitler called Mondrian's work degenerate art, Mondrian decided to leave Paris before the German invasion. In 1938 Mondrian decided to live in London where he met fellow artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson. As the Germans increased pressure on the UK, Mondrian left for New York were he arrived in October 1940. In New York Mondrian concluded his career with monumental works like "Broadway Boogie-Woogie" and (the unfinished) "Victory Boogie-Woogie". February 1, 1944 (at the age of 71) Piet Mondrian died of pneumonia in a New York hospital.

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