Celebrate Piet Mondrian’s Birthday with 10 Quotes on Painting
The artist didn't arrive at his signature style until well into his career.
Perhaps one of the most divisive figures in Modern art is Piet Mondrian—his primary colored, linear abstractions prompting grumbles of “my kid could do that” by philistines all over the world. But the pioneer of neoplasticism and co-founder of De Stijl was, in fact, far more talented—and revolutionary—than most children, not to mention his life’s work was far more varied than his late work.
As a young artist living between the Netherlands and Paris, Mondrian worked through Impressionism and Cubism before arriving at the style for which he rose to prominence in his own time. That style continues to be lauded in collections around the world today. Today, March 7, marks the 144th anniversary of his birth. In honor of the neoplastic master, we rounded up ten of the artist’s best quotes about painting and his goals as an artist.
1. “The first aim in painting should be universal expression.”
2. “So far as I know, I was the first to bring the painting forward from the frame, rather than set it within the frame.”
3. “To move the picture into our surroundings and give it real existence, has been my ideal since I came to abstract painting.”
4. “I think the destructive element is too much neglected in art.”
5. “To approach the spiritual in art, one will make as little use as possible of reality, because reality is opposed to the spiritual.”
6. “Every true artist has been inspired more by the beauty of lines and color and the relationships between them than by the concrete subject of the picture.”
7. “In past times when one lived in contact with nature, abstraction was easy; it was done unconsciously. Now in our denaturalized age abstraction becomes an effort.”
8. “The free placement of the means of expression is a privilege enjoyed exclusively by painting. The sister arts, sculpture and architecture, are more restricted in this respect. The other arts enjoy even less scope in their employment of the means of expression.”
9. “The artist make things move, and is moved. He is policeman, motor car, everything at once. He who makes things move also creates rest. That which aesthetically is brought to rest is art.”
10. “By the unification of architecture, sculpture and painting a new plastic reality will be created.”
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