Mondrian Evolution, German
Catalogue of the 2022 exhibition
Marking the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth, the Fondation Beyeler devotes a comprehensive exhibition to the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), bringing together works from its own collection and major international loans. As one of the most significant and multifaceted artists of the avant-garde, Mondrian decisively shaped the evolution of painting from figuration to abstraction. Piet Mondrian was initially influenced by late 19th-century Dutch landscape painting, but Symbolism and Cubism also played a major role in his artistic development. It was only in the early 1920s that he shifted to a wholly non-representational pictorial idiom consisting solely of rectilinear arrangements of black lines and areas of white and the three primary colours blue, red and yellow.
While the Fondation Beyeler’s collection mainly features works from Mondrian’s later periods, the exhibition looks primarily at the development of Mondrian’s early work. The exhibition is largely chronological, yet it draws its vividness from the confrontation of early and late works, which brings to light the transformative forces at play in Mondrian’s work. Across nine rooms, viewers encounter recurring motifs such as windmills, dunes, the sea, farmhouses reflected in water and plants in various states of abstraction.
Complementing the exhibition, the Fondation Beyeler will screen “Piet & Mondrian”, a short film by Lars Kraume, one of the most renowned German film directors. The film takes as its starting point Piet Mondrian’s 1919/1920 essay in dialogue form Natural Reality and Abstract Reality, in which the artist formulated his thoughts and considerations on abstraction in art. In a film installation, the striking presence of famed German theatre and film actor Lars Eidinger brings to life Mondrian’s theoretical text.
An exhibition organised by the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel and the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, in cooperation with the Kunstmuseum Den Haag.