Mondrian in his Paris studio in 1933 with Lozenge Composition with Four Yellow Lines

Mondrian in his Paris studio with Lozenge Composition with Four Yellow Lines and Composition with Double Lines and Yellow, 1933

Photo by Charles Karsten

Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) is one of the foremost artists of the twentieth century and a key practitioner of abstract art. This exhibition focuses on the period after 1911 when he worked exclusively in an abstract manner, following his move from the Netherlands to Paris. Prior to this, he had painted in a more traditional, figurative style. 

In Paris, he began to extend his compositional practices to the studio space itself. The exhibition includes a life-size reconstruction of Mondrian’s most famous studio, in the Montparnasse district of Paris, which he occupied from 1921-1936. It provides a clear sense of the relationship between architectural space and Mondrian’s use of primary colours and straight lines. It also illustrates how the painterly space of Mondrian’s canvasses was in constant dialogue with their direct surroundings. 

During the last years of his life, Mondrian experienced successive enforced moves. While he repeatedly set about transforming each new studio, their varied formats are connected to changes Mondrian made to his way of painting, most noticeably in the dynamic rhythms of his later works. Blurring the boundaries between his art and his life, the vitality Mondrian instilled in his paintings flowed over to all the surfaces of his studio, on which he continually altered compositions of coloured planes. By the time of his death, Mondrian’s personality became inseparable from the working environment he created for himself.