Room 5: London
In 1938, fearing impending war and seeing opportunities for abstract art withering in Paris, Mondrian decided to move once more. He did not want to return to the Netherlands and dreamed of joining László Moholy-Nagy’s New Bauhaus in Chicago. His contemporary, Ben Nicholson, found a room for Mondrian at 60 Parkhill Road, Belsize Park, London, next to his own studio. Already having exhibited in the UK, sold paintings to British collectors and contributed to the British journal Circle, Mondrian had a natural base established here. He sent ahead both finished and unfinished paintings, together with key possessions, such as his phonograph, and crossed the Channel in September that year. No visual record survives of Mondrian’s London studio, although we do know from correspondence that his many artist friends in the area helped him to acquire basic furniture, while he constructed other items, such as a table, himself and the landlord painted the room white on his request. According to Barbara Hepworth’s later recollection, in a week it resembled his Montparnasse studio and ‘his wonderful squares of primary colours climbed up the walls’.
The digital reconstruction shown here is based on the actual dimensions of the room Mondrian occupied, and speculations of its interior design informed by written testimonies of visitors to the studio.