Piet Mondrian

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Mondrian, Piet

Mondrian, Piet (pēt mônˈdrēän), 1872–1944, Dutch painter. He studied at the academy in Amsterdam and passed through an early naturalistic phase. In 1910 he went to Paris, where the influence of cubism stimulated the development of his geometric, nonobjective style, which he called neoplasticism. He and Theo van Doesburg—leaders of the so-called Stijl group of artists—founded (1917) a magazine De Stijl, in which Mondrian published articles until 1925. In 1920 he published a book on his theory that appeared as Le Neo-Plasticisme in French and as Neue Gestaltung in German. His art and theory influenced the Bauhaus movement and the development of the International style in architecture. In 1940 he settled in New York City.

Typical of his art are compositions employing only vertical and horizontal lines at 90° angles and using only the primary colors and sometimes grays or black against a white background. Sensuality, three-dimensionality, and representation are utterly eliminated from his works, as is the curved line. Within these restrictions, his paintings are executed with consummate perfection of design and craft. Much of Mondrian's work is in American and European private collections. He is well represented in the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, and in the Art Institute of Chicago.


See his essays (1945); studies by M. Seuphor (tr. 1957), F. Elgar (tr. 1968), H. L. C. Jaffé (1970), and C. Blotkamp (1995).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mondrian, Piet


(born Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan). Born Mar. 7, 1872, in Amersfoort, near Utrecht; died Feb. 1, 1944, in New York City. Dutch painter.

From 1892 to 1897, Mondrian studied at the Academy of Arts in Amsterdam. He worked in Paris from 1911 to 1914 and from 1919 to 1938, in London from 1938 to 1940, and in New York City from 1940 until his death. One of the founders of the De Stijl group (1917), Mondrian was influenced by cubism. A striving for “universal harmony” in the spirit of Neoplatonism was expressed in the artist’s new style of painting, which he created in 1917 and called neoplasticism. One of the first variations of abstract art, neoplasticism made use of strictly balanced combinations of various rectangular forms, separated by thick perpendicular lines and painted in primary colors and in white (often predominantly), black, and gray (Composition, 1922; Composition in Red, Yellow, and Blue, 1927—both in the City Museum, Amsterdam).


Le Neoplasticisme. Paris, 1921.
Die neue Gestaltung. Munich, 1925. (Bauhausbiicher, no. 5.)


Reingardt, L. “Abstraktsionizm.” In the collection Modernizm. Moscow, 1973, Pages 130–38.
Seuphor, M. Piet Mondrian: Life and Work. Amsterdam, 1957.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.