Mondrian, Piet

from The New Book of Knowledge®

ART HISTORY ON DEMAND > Artists

Modern artist Piet Mondrian is recognized as a founding master of abstract art. His theory of art influenced the clean lines of modern architecture and commercial design.

Mondrian was born in Amersfoort, the Netherlands, on March 7, 1872. He received his first art lessons from his father. Mondrian enrolled in the Amsterdam Academy of Fine Arts in 1892.

In 1911, Mondrian went to Paris. There he saw the work of the cubists, a group of painters who represented objects from all sides, using combinations of flat shapes. He, too, began to produce some paintings using horizontal and vertical lines and no curves. On white backgrounds, he painted rectangles and squares of red, yellow, and blue. Mondrian's paintings represent ideas. He believed that there is a logical reason for everything. He expressed his ideas through form and color, which give a sense of order and steadiness.

Mondrian returned to the Netherlands in 1914 and later formed a group of artists that came to be called De Stijl (The Style), after a magazine he helped start. Mondrian coined the term neoplasticism to describe the group's work, in which forms are restricted to simple geometric shapes and primary colors.

Mondrian lived in Paris from 1919 until 1938. At the beginning of World War II (1939-45), he moved to London and then to New York City. He continued to create important works, such as Broadway Boogie-Woogie (1942-43), until his death in New York on February 1, 1944.

Reviewed by Ariane Ruskin Batterberry
Author, The Pantheon Story of Art for Young People

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