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The echo of lines
In 1932 Mondrian was commissioned to paint a picture that represented his artistic position. Some of his friends wanted to give this painting to The Hague Museum. In 1933 ‘Rhomboid Composition with four yellow lines’, was finished. On the blank canvas only a few lines can be recognised which no longer intersect within the area and therefore no longer form a continuous shape. Surprisingly, Mondrian painted them in bright yellow. The ends of the lines are cut by the edge of the square and don´t just leave you thinking, as in earlier blank canvases, what could continue beyond the square. These sunny lines of new colourful art seem only to string together once outside the canvas.
This composition- which perhaps could be given the name "design" - was already, at first glance, a violation of all the rules of art. Mondrian himself had established that lines drawn in paint in this style had to be black and only the spots of colour or coloured rectangles could be tinged with red, yellow or blue. Just such a rule had been criticized as cheap dogmatism, but it only showed that none of his art had been understood. However, it was true that only the rigid functional division between drawing and colour could uphold the claim of abstract art to be painting in the old sense. In the Italian Renaissance, the drawer and painter, "Disegno" and "colore" had been defined as the basis of artwork and not even the Cubists had dared to attack the foundation of Western painting.
But with this entered the realm of the unknown and the new, classical painting could cheerfully be dismissed, because it could refer to his past paintings. Thus in his old age he developed a reference purely for himself, with its paradisiacal insensitivity to any external threat that was dreamed of...
In 1933 he returned to his long cherished wish: a canvas with a homogeneous design surface lacking a central organizing structure, and formed only by colour. He merged the line with the colour, thus losing the relationship with tradition and gaining a new dimension in painting...
Why did Mondrian use the double line?
Questions can be asked and answered about the structure on the canvas; it is something that belongs to the tradition of Western painting just as the distinction between "Disegno" and "Colour". When a picture is seen that has been made according to the rules of perspective and the doctrine of proportions, when all that is represented appears to have a decipherable meaning, then it can be considered a good painting...
Before Mondrian had structures that were known, that had names that were normally considered as expressing a rational configuration, the regular network was one of these. Painting specialists had been accustomed over the centuries to simple lines. The axes of the picture were always spoken about, the main lines of the composition, although these did not appear so pure and direct in the work of the old masters...
But the double line did not appear in this system, as it was enough to draw a simple line to sketch the outline of an object. If two parallel lines are drawn a kind of aesthetic game emerges...
When you duplicate a line it not only lacks function in the classical sense as a contour line in a drawing, but it also seems a copy of itself.
Already by 1896-1897 Mondrian had copied the old representations of martyrs ... to give sense to the new group through the imitation of the old, which had enjoyed a long tradition. He later copied the style of Picasso. And now began to copy himself...
In 1944 he wrote a prose work which would be taken as his autobiography: "Toward the true vision of reality”. This "true vision" was of course the one which Mondrian had from the window of his studio and through which, since 1914, he wanted to show that abstract painting better captured the essence of the world than a naturalistic representation. In retrospect, he described his life as if he had lived in the studio since birth. A life never experienced by him, a longed for life that he styled into a work of art and the source of imagination for his art. This best explains why, in his old age, Mondrian could give up all the surrounding structures he had built over the years to ensure the sense of abstract art. By that time he was sure that it was enough to live to paint properly.
Being a "technician of the new” he was interested in widening the range of his work materials. In New York adhesive coloured tape went on to the market for the first time, still in the form of strips of paper stickers ... The crisscross paintings of colour in 1919 had something dry, something mechanical, that upsets a painting done so traditionally ... . It needed a new technique that would result in the perceptible harmony of technique, material and design...
For this reason, none of the European painters who lived in New York at that time, was as close to the young North American painting style as Mondrian …Pollock also painted with coloured lines and from 1943 evenly distributed an impulsive tangle of coloured lines on the surface of the canvas, giving not only one centre but several, and was uniformly covered with forms..
Pollock also painted with coloured lines and from 1943 evenly distributed a tangle of lines on the surface of the canvas giving not just one centre but several, and was uniformly covered with shapes....
Mondrian, who had always advocated clear geometrics, tried again to reunite the membrane of colour with coloured lines in his later paintings. The result was like a carpet of musically sparkling coloured particles ....or to go even further:
the dissolving of the shape was carried to the point where it was almost not possible to distinguish either lines or surface parts and the wild beat created a shimmering impression.... Finally, he had displayed the historical necessity of the abstract.

Sussane Deichee. Piet Mondrian. Ed. Taschen GmbH. Hohenzollernring 53, D-50672 Köln. 2006
 
 
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PIET MONDRIAN 1872-1944
72,5*69.Oil on canvas
COMPOSITION WITH YELLOW, BLUE AND RED 1937-42

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