Composition with yellow, blue and red | Piet Mondrian | 1942
Influenced by his father, a draughtsman, the Dutch Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan was related to art since an early age. He studies formally in the Amsterdam Academy of Arts and works as a primary teacher.
To Mondrian, art was always related to the spiritual and philosophical search. In 1908, the artist becomes interested for the teosophic movement, which, in its beliefs, says that one can know nature more profoundly than only by empiricist evidence.
Being 39 years old, Mondrian moves to Paris and changes his signature from “Mondriaan” (his original last name) to “Mondrian”, as a way to make a statement of his separation with the Netherlands. Until then, his work consisted in the painting of landscapes from his country, in the impressionist or naturalist ways. But in the French capital city, he is introduced to Braque and Picasso’s cubism and this influence directly in his work: geometric figures, typical of the movement, start to appear in Mondrian’s canvases.
But on the contrary of cubists, Mondrian still thought that his spiritual search through painting, so he started to fuse the teosophy with art in one theory. And this will definitely distance him from representacionist art.
During a visit to his home in the Netherlands, the WW1 bursts, so he has to stay there. Along with some other Dutch artists, tuned with his spiritual concerns, they found the movement they called De stijl. In a letter, Mondrian would affirm that he needs to find the truth, the essence of things, and the way to do it is necessary to abstract from form, because it is external and illusory. This way of thinking was shared by all the members of the De stijl movement.
The abstract painting of Mondrian consists in canvases with vertical and horizontal black stripes, filled fundamentally with white, despite some details in primary colors. Time makes Mondrian to evolve regarding the black stripes, the amount of color, etc.
Composition in yellow, blue and red represents a mature stage of Mondrian’s abstraction. It seems to be a flat work, but there are differences in the texture of different elements. While the black stripes are the flattest of the paintings, in the areas with color are clear the brushstrokes, all in the same direction. The white spaces are, on the contrary, painted in layers, using brushstrokes that are put in different directions. And all of these produce a depth that, to the naked eye, cannot be appreciated.
Maybe this was Mondrian’s intention…