Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mondrian / De Stijl 1er Décembre 2010- 21 Mars 2011, Centre Pompidou, Paris. By craniv boyd.

Mondrian / De Stijl 1er Décembre 2010- 21 Mars 2011, Centre Pompidou, Paris. By craniv boyd. 

A master of modernism and a the movement he came from. A Dutch painter with a distinct style whose work is easily parodied, written off as "my five year old could…" Mondrian / De Stijl, at the Pompidou center offers a timeline of the movement behind the painter and the man and painter behind the iconic geometric paintings like Broadway Boogie Woogie

When I was younger my father would say to me that many modernist painters who painted in abstract ways were not only capable but also highly skilled at representational forms. These painters could paint a portrait of you that was a likeness with ease if they wanted to. Why then make the choice to make a work so distilled so refined that bears little recognizable resemblance to the quotidian. It comes in part from a belief in arts higher purpose. 

Mondrian / De Stijl is a very instructive exposition that gives a historical and philosophical context to early 20th century Dutch modernism. Visitors to the De Stijl section of the exhibition will be greeted and welcomed by a lush and viridian large format landscape oil painting in pastel-like candy-colored hues of the flat Dutch landscape. The quality of the large painting is awe-inspiring and it is a modern answer to that time honored tradition that the people of the low country have of landscape painting. The author of that work is Mondrian; he is also author of a portrait of a child hanging on the same wall, also in fauvist candy colors. The Mondrian who made these paintings had not become the same Mondrian that Star Trek character android Data loved. Data being a computer in human form would naturally have an affinity for a paintings that look geometric and were expressions of fineness and simplicity. 

The De Stijl section of the exposition, takes the works of the artists and architects of De Stijl and traces their common interests in the Theosophical and art nouveaux movements, and how they collectively developed together to create a new art in Holland, an art that looked less and less like Alfonse Mucha or a Paris Metro Station. Mondrian also figures prominently in the rooms devoted to De Stijl, yet here he his contextualized, his work is shown together with the other artists architects and designers who became enamored with primary colors black and white and geometric abstraction.

We are offered rooms with architectural schematics and plans for color coordinating the windows of public buildings in orange green and purple, we are offered stained glass in red yellow blue and black and white, by various artists of the movement. Seeing this one is given the idea that for Mondrian the process of abstraction was about more than just painting. 

This becomes apparent in the Mondrian retrospective section of the exposition. The viewer is offered a scale recreation of Mondrian's Paris Studio prior to his emigration to New York. The Studio of Mondrian is the 20th century's forgotten Merzbau. Mondrian was not living in an apartment in Paris, he turned his apartment in Paris into an artwork he could both live and work in. walking through this space one gets a chill, it is like taking a step into the mind of Mondrian walking in his work space and living space in the approximate way he would have left it, it gives a new meaning relevance and import to Mondrian's work. He was in affect living in his paintings, more or less. Stepping into the bookstore of the exposition, there are two volumes of the artists writings in French published in conjunction with this retrospective. By craniv boyd. 

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