Piet Mondrian

Dutch (1872 - 1944)
Piet Mondrian Composition with Double Line and Yellow, 1932 1932


Born 1872
Died 1944
Nationality Dutch

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.

Glossary terms

  • Art in which there is no attempt to represent anything existing in the world, particularly used of the 20th century onwards. ‘Abstraction’ refers to the process of making images that may in part derive from the visible world but which are reduced to basic formal elements.

  • Or Entartete Kunst. Term coined in the 1930s by the Nazis in Germany to ridicule modern art that didn't fit with Hitler's vision. Exhibitions of such works confiscated from German museums were staged and German artists branded with the term were banned from exhibiting their work.

  • The name of a Dutch art and design journal edited by Theo van Doesburg from 1917 to 1932 and the movement associated with it, which included Piet Mondrian. They were concerned with finding a harmonious balance in life and art, and the associated visual style is simple abstraction, characterised by strong horizontal and vertical lines and primary colours.

  • A loosely affiliated group of artists working in Paris in the early years of the twentieth century up to the Second World War. The term initially referred specifically to non-French artists who had settled in the city but was later used more generally. Artists associated with group are regarded as innovators of modern art, working in styles as diverse as Fauvism, Cubism, Surrealism and Abstract Art. They include Picasso, Matisse, Chagall and Modigliani.