About this artwork

This is one of the earliest of Mondrian's so-called 'tram-line' paintings. Before 1932 he had used single lines but he began pairing them in order to achieve a sense of optical movement. He also began to extend the coloured areas over the edge of the canvas. In this painting, Mondrian created a perfect balance between the colour and the horizontal and vertical lines, so that no one element dominated. He painted with great precision, although he did so intuitively by trial and error, not through mathematical calculation. This painting formerly belonged to the artist Winifred Nicholson, who acquired it directly from Mondrian.

Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian

Mondrian was the leading artist of the 'De Stijl' (the style) movement, a group of Dutch artists who produced strictly geometric, abstract art. Mondrian's early work painted from nature became increasingly abstract. For example a series of studies of trees and their branches made from 1909 to 1913 evolved into a criss-cross of lines. However it was when he became a member of the Theosophist group that he began to paint the grid paintings with which he is associated. Theosophists saw existence in terms of harmony between male and female, positive and negative, horizontal and vertical. Mondrian's paintings embody this sense of balance.