Piet Mondrian’s The Tree A
Trees were objects of particular fascination for the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. In 1908 the artist had painted a vibrant, semi-abstract yet recognisably naturalistic picture entitled Evening; Red Tree (Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague). A few years later, in 1911, he completed a painting called Grey Tree (Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague), which appears to endorse a Kantian position on the sublime. In this work, conceived under the influence of cubism, Mondrian eschewed the depiction of objective reality, along with the lively, expressive colours of his earlier works, for an increasingly abstract, monochrome style of painting. By 1913, the year in which The Tree A (Tate T02211, fig.1) was most probably completed, the artist had gone even further. In this picture there is no attempt to convey the illusion of depth or perspective; the image is entirely flat. Gone too are the bold, gestural brush strokes that had characterised his earlier paintings; the intensely wrought trunk and branches of Grey Tree have been replaced by a network of coolly articulated horizontal and vertical lines. It is possible to see in this painting the beginnings of Mondrian’s mature style, with its chequerboard of horizontal and vertical lines and clearly delineated blocks of colour.
How to cite
Philip Shaw, ‘Piet Mondrian’s The Tree A ’, in Nigel Llewellyn and Christine Riding (eds.), The Art of the Sublime, January 2013, https://www