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Posts Tagged ‘Piet Mondrian’

You have most likely seen the work of Piet Mondrian, the Dutch painter who lived from 1872 until 1944.

Like the painting shown here. Seems so simple. Mainly black lines creating squares and rectangles that are mainly white but periodically filled with bright primary colors. Critics claim it is too simple, that it is something a grade-schooler with a ruler and some paints could replicate easily.

Maybe. Maybe not. Who cares?

But putting that side aside, his work has always remained refresh and modern through most of the last century up to this very minute. Outside of time, like it represents a future moment that exists just beyond this very moment at all times. And that factor in itself makes his work appealing to me.

I will never list Mondrian as a true influence or even a real favorite of mine, there is much to be gained as an artist from studying his work. The elegance of his structures and the space created within, for example. Or how he transformed his work through the years from a style of impressionistic realism into cubism and then into the style of his that we know so well, stripping away all detail and content down to the bare essence of being.

The video below shows that evolution beautifully, with musical accompaniment from Phillip Glass. I hope you’ll find it interesting to see how the work makes that transformation. Take a look below.

Let us note that art – even on an abstract level – has never been confined to ‘idea’; art has always been the ‘realized’ expression of equilibrium.
-Piet Mondrian

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Hilma af Klint - Painting the UnseenJust a few days ago, a new exhibit opened at the Serpentine Galleries in London.  It features a group of abstract and symbolic paintings from a Swedish painter by the name of Hilma af Klint who lived from 1862 until 1944.  The images of her work on display are quite captivating and intrigued me enough to look further into her work.  It’s an interesting case.

She was trained in the 1880’s in Sweden as a traditional artist and for most of her life supported herself with naturalistic landscapes and portraits.  This work is well done and attractive but unremarkable.  She considered this conventional work as a means of supporting her “life’s work” which were the many spiritually inspired abstract pieces produced from the 1890’s up to the time of her death in 1944.

Hilma af Klint YouthInterested in spirituality and theosophy, Hilma formed a group of women who met on a regular basis to hold seances to attempt to contact and channel the spirits from other dimensions.  She claimed to have been “commissioned” by one of these spirits to create a series of large paintings which occupied her for a number of years.  These paintings consisted of geometric and organic forms and a distinct visual vocabulary expressing a deeply spiritual element.

At the time of her death, there was a huge group of work, over 1200 paintings of varying.  Some are epic in their size, measuring over 10′ in height.  However, none were ever displayed publicly in her lifetime and she stipulated that it not be allowed to be exhibited until twenty years after her death. for fear that it would not be understood in that present time.  Little did she know that it would actually be more than forty years before it came to light in an exhibit in 1986.  In recent years there have been two major exhibits of her work, including this current show at the Serpentine Galleries, which have really pushed her work into the spotlight.

Her recent discovery and the depth of her work has created a quandary fo art historians who struggle to place her in the timeline of art history.   Her work was formed independently of and, in most cases, before the abstract movement pioneered by Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian.  They don’t know how to categorize her: Is she a pioneer or simply an outsider?

I don’t think this categorization matters.  Just take a look at some of these works on display and most likely you won’t care either.  The work definitely is in the present and alive. And that is all that matters.

Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction3 Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction 2 Hilma af Klint - Painting the Unseen2 Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

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