The path to abstraction

Mondrian on my wish list

A book about the life and work of Piet Mondrian (1892 – 1914) was on my wish list for a while, but for a long time I wasn’t able to find a book which tells the story of Mondrian in the right way. In this matter, ‘the right way’ is also showing the early works of Mondrian, and avoiding cliches. A cliche would be a one dimensional focus on Mondrian’s brightly colored squares and rectangles.

Mondrian’s path to abstraction

The path to abstractionAnd there I found it, the right book about Mondrian: ‘The Path to Abstraction’ (Waanders Publishers, Zwolle). I was directly drawn to the deep blue and red colors on the cover of this book. Mondrian can be a mystery when looking at his works of art, and this is also what the book was communicating.

A lot of specialistic and passionate people contributed to ‘The Path to Abstraction‘, for example: Serge Lemoine, former director of Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The book makes a clear statement: all commissioned works are excluded; only works which meant ‘a step further’ in Mondrian’s artistic career, were added.

MondrianReading ‘The Path to Abstraction’, is like making a journey through the mind of Mondrian. You can almost feel his development as an artist. Of course, Mondrian wasn’t born as the painter who went beyond cubism. Just like almost all great modern painters, Mondrian developed his artistic techniques by painting from life and looking at the works of art of other great masters. Where the paintings of the young Mondrian should mainly be described as realistic, the older Mondrian is discovering the intrinsic power of colors and shapes. When you’ve finished reading ‘The Path to Abstraction’, you’ll understand a little better how one man could break through so many artistic barriers in one lifetime. But still, Mondrian remains to be a mystery to me, and a true source of inspiration.


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