Mondrian’s connection to architecture
Piet Mondrian was a Dutch painter born 1872.When he was young he worked as a teacher for some years before he started to study art in Amsterdam.He liked to draw and painted naturalistic landscape until he in 1908 saw a cubist exhibition in Paris with Picasso and Braque.He settled in Paris and changed his painting to abstract art.He lived in Paris for several years, but when The First World War started he was in Holland and did not returned to Paris until 1919.During these years he started a magazine “The Style”together with Theo van Doesburg (theorist).The new style had the name Neo-Plasticism which was about straight lines and few colours.Mondrian continued to experiment with simplicity and balance the rest of his life.
Theo van Doesburg went to Bauhaus in Germany where German architects were introduced to the new style, and Walter Gropius, the leader of Bauhaus, took it later over to America where he became a teacher at Harvard. This new style come to characterise the building of skyscrapers together with the Bauhaus way of building houses which has no ornament and decorations on the facade, but a lot of windows and with a structure of steel.
A Dutch architect,Urd,was the first that introduced Neo-Plasticism in architecture, and a Finish architect, Saarinen, presented vertical neoplastic lines on a facade in an architect competition in 1922.This modernistic way to decorate buildings, was called The International Style by The Chicago Tribune(newspaper) 1932.
Philip Johnson is a famous American architect that started to build houses in the new style and American architects, very soon make zigzag on the facade.
After the last war the new style grew rapidly and has now been the normal way of building and decorating skyscrapers and high houses, but it started by two movements in painting, Neo-Plasticism in Holland with Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg and Expressionism in Germany.
I often think of Mondrian and his lines and simplicity when I walk around in London and look at all the high houses.
Mondrian moved to New York 194o just before the World War II started. The first evening there he heard this Boogie Woogie music and decided to make a new picture, it is called “Boogie Woogie”. He painted the life in New York with squares and streets, light, traffic and the rhythm of the city.The colours changed into many different colours and all the black lines disappeared.It was a new life for him and his paintings changed totally.
He died 1944 in New York, but his paintings are still around us in advertising, on clothes and toothpaste a.s.o.