Mondrian, Piet (1872–1944) By Jones, Peter
The Dutch artist Piet Mondrian was one of the pioneers of abstract art, producing some of the most radical painting of the 20th century. The early influence of Cubism led him to adopt a semi-abstract linear style, as in the paintings of trees and buildings he made in Paris and Holland over 1912–1914. During the inter-war years, Mondrian developed an esoteric theory of art and an austere style of geometric abstraction he called Neo-Plasticism. In this work, for which he is best known, Mondrian abandoned all reference to nature and aimed to express a higher reality beyond the world of appearances. He reduced his painting to basic elements and their interplay: black horizontal and vertical lines, planes of primary colors, grey and white as exemplified in Composition C (III) with Red, Yellow and Blue from 1935. His final paintings, made in America in the early 1940s, are characterized by vibrant grids animated by small colored squares reflecting an interest in the syncopated rhythms of popular music and urban life. Mondrian was also a consummate draughtsman, prolific writer and member of the influential De Stijl [The Style] group, which sought to reform the arts and society.