Or should that be 'Mondriaan'? He changed the spelling, dropping an 'a', when he moved to Paris in 1911... In the 100th anniversary year since the founding of De Stijl, I visited Amersfoort, Eindhoven, Amsterdam and The Hague – where the Gemeentemuseum, which holds 300 of Mondrian’s works, was showing them all. Mondrian (1972-1944) was everywhere. Or was he? You need to keep your wits about you to distinguish the real thing from various related items. Can you sort the Mondrian from the Not-Mondrian in the following? Answers at the end...
1. Theo van Doesburg: Bestand - Seascape with Ships, 1906
There may be some exaggeration in the tale that Mondrian and Van Doesburg fell out over the latter’s use of diagonal lines, but it’s true that the theosophical underpinnings of Mondrian’s mature style stressed the horizontal and vertical. So this transitional work from 1918 carries is unusual in carrying a whiff of Van Doesburg.
Having infected Robert Indiana’s iconic hippie version of ‘Love’ by making a visual match which said ‘AIDS’, Toronto collective General Idea went on to ‘infect’ Mondrian with green, the colour he was famous for not using in his mature works.
6. Mondrian: Chrysanthemum,1921
7. Not-Mondrian: Streetscape in The Hague
10. Mondrian: Composition with Blue, 1937
Mondrian introduced the double or 'tram-line' in 1932, looking to increase the sense of optical movement. I think this is the first painting in which a treble line appears.
11. Mondrian and not-Mondrian: Victory Boogie Woogie, after Mondrian, 1946
The Gemeentemuseum has Mondrian’s last, unfinished, work ‘Victory Boogie Woogie’ (1942-44), as it was left in his studio at a stage when taped plans had not yet been fully replaced by paint. The Stedelijk showed that in 1946, but could not obtain it. The Director asked the museum’s restorer, Willy Kock, to make a version of how it would have looked once finished as apparently intended. Willy Kock, yes - some people would laugh at that name… So anyway, the close-up is from the copy, now on display in Amsterdam. Here's the full original from The Hague:
In this brooding charcoal and crayon drawing Mondrian, already in his forties, casts himself in a surprising romantic light.
14: Mondrian: L'Éphémère est éternel by Michel Seuphor (1926, reconstruction 1964)
16: Not-Mondrian: Street scene in Amersfoort