Celebrate Piet Mondrian’s Birthday with 10 Quotes on Painting

The artist didn't arrive at his signature style until well into his career.

Around 1920, when Mondrian was 48, he began painting in the primary-colored, linear style he became famous for. Composition A (1920) Image: via Wikimedia Commons
Around 1920, when Mondrian was 48, he began painting in the primary-colored, linear style he became famous for. Composition A (1920)
Image: via Wikimedia Commons

 

Piet Mondrian, <i>Victory Boogie Woogie</i> (1942-1944) <br>Image: via Wikimedia Commons.

Piet Mondrian, Victory Boogie Woogie (1942-1944)
Image: via Wikimedia Commons.

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.

Did you know that Mondrian dabbled in figurative painting? He painted <i>On the Lappenbrink in Winterswijk</i> in 1899, when he was 27 years old. <br>Image: via Wikimedia Commons.

Did you know that Mondrian dabbled in figurative painting? He painted On the Lappenbrink in Winterswijk in 1899, when he was 27 years old.
Image: via Wikimedia Commons.

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.”

In his 30s, Mondrian worked in a more Impressionistic style, approaching abstraction. <i>Dune III</i> was painted in 1909. <br>Image: via Wikimedia Commons

In his 30s, Mondrian worked in a more Impressionistic style, approaching abstraction. Dune III was painted in 1909.
Image: via Wikimedia Commons.

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.”

Mondrian worked briefly in a Cubist style before arriving at neoplasticism. <i>Still Life with Gingerpot II</i> (1911-1912)<br>Image: via Wikimedia Commons

Mondrian worked briefly in a Cubist style before arriving at neoplasticism. Still Life with Gingerpot II (1911-1912)
Image: via Wikimedia Commons.

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.”

Around 1920, when Mondrian was 48, he began painting in the primary-colored, linear style he became famous for. <i>Composition A</i> (1920) <br>Image: via Wikimedia Commons

Around 1920, when Mondrian was 48, he began painting in the primary-colored, linear style he became famous for. Composition A (1920)
Image: via Wikimedia Commons.

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.”

Piet Mondrian, <i>Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red</i> (1937-1942)<br>Image: via Wikimedia Commons

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red (1937-1942)
Image: via Wikimedia Commons.

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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