Painter Mondriaan, influenced by Islamic art


This 2016 video says about itself:

Showcase: Islamic geometric patterns– The possibility of infinite expansion

In this special edition, we’ll take a look at Islamic geometric patterns. Geometric designs have a special place in Islamic art. A combination of repeated squares and circles can be found on a variety of buildings, garden floors, carpets and even textiles. Far from being mere forms of decoration, these repetitive geometric designs are meant to connect the viewer to a higher state of consciousness.

In 2008, I blogged about the relationship between famous Dutch artist Piet Mondriaan and Islam. Specifically, a probably Muslim girl wore a headscarf with a colourful pattern, based on a Mondriaan painting.

Then, I did not know yet that there had also been influence the other way round: influence on Mondriaan by Islamic artists.

From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Mondriaan and Islamic geometric art

Hans Janssen, Eric Broug

Date: 22 June 2017

Time: 15:00 – 17:00 hrs.

Address: Academy Building, Rapenburg 73, 2311 GJ Leiden

Room: 00.01

LUCIS will organize two lectures about Mondriaan and geometric art in Islam on June 22. Before the lecture, a free guided tour will start at Pieterskerkplein at 13:30 hours. Both the lecture and the tour will be in Dutch. Registration via: lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl. More information at the Dutch page of this event.

Unknown Mondriaan painting discovered


Mondriaan's Landscape near Arnhem, photo Christiie's images limited

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Unknown Mondrian surfaces at auction

Today, 15:47

A ‘new’ Mondrian has surfaced at Christie’s auction house in Amsterdam. The work comes from private ownership and was hitherto unknown. The painting shows a landscape with in the distance Arnhem city, writes Omroep Gelderland.

Piet Mondrian painted the work in 1902 or 1903. The painting Landscape near Arnhem is not described in any catalog and has never previously hung in a museum.

According to art specialist Odette van Ginkel the owner does not know much about the origin and how it came into the family. Van Ginkel believes the painting was sold fairly quickly probably after it was finished. Possibly therefore it has never appeared in a catalog.

Authenticity

There is little or no doubt about the authenticity of the painting. Dutch Institute for Art History RKD and the The Hague Municipal Museum reviewed the work.

A similar work by Piet Mondrian is known, painted from the same spot on the north side of the capital of Gelderland.

Tuesday

The painting is now officially approved and will be listed in the next catalog of Mondrian‘s work. Which will come out next spring.

The painting is estimated to be sold at between 120,000 and 180,000 euros. The work will be auctioned Tuesday at Christie’s in Amsterdam.

Painter Mondriaan inspires Terschelling bird reserve


This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

10 January 2016

Wadland time lapse we made for SLeM at the 2014 Oerol Theatre and Landscape Art Festival on the island of Terschelling in The Netherlands, the video was shown at the official opening of the festival. It shows the building process of a 1×1 square kilometer labyrinth made of willow branches in the tidal zone of the island. From above the labyrinth resembles part of a painting in the series “Pier and Ocean” by painter Mondriaan (1915).

There is a plan for a permanent wetland, looking like that Mondriaan painting, on the south coast of Terschelling. It should attract many birds, and should be ready in 2018.

See also here.

Theo van Doesburg, Nelly van Doesburg, dadaism, De Stijl


This is a video about paintings by Theo van Doesburg.

He was born Christian Emil Marie Küpper, in Utrecht, in 1883. He died in Davos, in 1931.

At the moment, there is a big exhibition, called Van Doesburg and the international avant-garde. Constructing a new world. Next year, the exhibition wil move to Tate Modern in London.

Both Theo van Doesburg, and his third wife Nelly van Moorsel, played major roles in the artistic movements of Dadaism and De Stijl. Both movements arose in 1916-1917, as reactions against World War I.

Both were avant-garde movements with some of the paradoxes which may be involved in this.

Some of the people in De Stijl had fled from the war, from belligerent countries like Hungary, to the neutral Netherlands. De Stijl was internationalist, against the nationalist ideologies which had contributed to the war.

Theo van Doesburg personally had been a soldier in the Dutch army from 1914 to 1916. Though the Dutch army then did not participate in the bloodbath, van Doesburg whose unit guarded the Belgian border, had heard from refugees about the horrors that Belgium was going through.

In Van Doesburg, like in many other people then, this lead to the view that drastic change was needed in a society which had led to this horrible war. Before the war, Van Doesburg’s interest in politics had been limited to membership in the Vrijzinnig-Democratische Bond. That was a moderate liberal party, just slightly left of center (though it was also pacifist; contrary to some people today calling themselves liberal leftists).

Like Van Doesburg was not a life-long political revolutionary, he also was no avant-garde artist from his cradle to his grave, no artistic revolutionary for the sake of it. Before the war, he did, eg, a fairly conventional landscape painting of the dunes of Meijendel near The Hague (included in the exhibition). In 1912, he was critical of the (politically and artistically ambiguous) futurist movement.

Van Doesburg during the war and later wanted to do more to change society.

In this, he claimed a central role for art, more precisely, his new tendency in art moving towards abstraction. Didn’t he over-estimate the role of art in social change, as other artists (and people in other professions) may over-estimate the influence of their own roles?

It may not all be artistic self-overestimation, if we look at the views on this issue of Trotsky and Stalin: both politicians, not artists. Different from each other. But both saw the role of the arts as important. Trotsky wrote much about art, including a joint manifesto with French surrealist artist André Breton. Stalin said that the work of writers was more important than producing tanks.

Theo van Doesburg had links to Russian avant-garde artists, like the constructivists.

This is a video from the USA about De Stijl.

Piet Mondriaan originally was a De Stijl colleague of Van Doesburg. Eventually, both had a conflict, however. In Mondriaan’s theory, there should just be horizontal and vertical lines in paintings etc., no diagonal lines. While Van Doesburg eventually brought back diagonal lines in his work. Mondriaan’s views on horizontal and vertical lines were influenced by Theosophy, and ideas there about “active” males vs. “passive” females. Ideas that were problematic for the active role of Nelly van Doesburg and other women in De Stijl and dadaism.

This video says about itself:

The Dada movement was a protest against the barbarism of World War I, the bourgeois interests that Dada adherents believed inspired the war, and what they believed was an oppressive intellectual rigidity in both art and everyday society. Dada was an international movement, and it is difficult to classify artists as being from any one particular country, as they were constantly moving from one place to another.

On 15 November 2009, there was an interview with art historian, and niece and biographer of Nelly van Doesburg, Ms Wies van Moorsel.

Nelly van Moorsel came from a rather conventional Roman Catholic shopowner’s family. Unusually for such a background, she went to music school to learn to play the piano, on the advice of the architect Berlage, their next door neighbour. However, the music school was conventional in its own way. Nelly did not learn anything there about music written after the nineteenth century Romantic composers. In 1920, she first met Theo van Doesburg in The Hague. He asked her about modern composers like Erik Satie. In her reply she managed to avoid to show that her education had taught her nothing about modern composers. Soon, they fell in love; which lead to a break with her family.

When Wies van Moorsel in the 1960s had the first long meeting with her aunt, Nelly van Doesburg asked her about the latest trends in visual arts. Like in her aunt’s 1910s music school, Ms van Moorsel’s art history education excluded new avant-garde tendencies, and she was unable to reply seriously.

Nelly van Doesburg soon learnt about 1920s avant-garde music. In 1923, during a series of dadaist performances in the Netherlands, she started playing Chopin on the piano; what conventional audiences expected from music. Then, suddenly, she disoriented the audience by changing to very recent piano compositions.

After Theo van Doesburg’s death, Nelly organized many exhibitions of the works of her late husband and other artists. Late in her life, she was still very interested in social and political issues, like opposition to the war in Algeria. Like the students’ and workers’ movement in 1968 in Paris where she lived. Like anti pollution movements. She told Wies van Moorsel that Theo, if he would have been still alive, would have been an activist rather than an artist. A view, different from the central role for art which Theo himself had claimed decades earlier.

Barney Bubbles who designed many punk and New Wave record sleeves in the 1970s-1980s, was much influenced by Theo van Doesburg.

About the Van Doesburg exhibition in London:

The visitor’s guide does not explain the socio-historical context of war and revolutions which gave artists such utopian desire to create a better world. This is a serious omission which will particularly affect younger viewers, since history is now taught so cursorily in schools.

A new book on the history of anti-war movements in Britain illuminates the stories of those who refused to fight in the First World War. Chris Bambery looks at their struggle: here.

Arts and society: here.

The Automatiste Revolution: Montreal 1941-1960: The Varley Art Gallery, Unionville, Ontario, until Feb. 28, 2010; The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, March 19 to May 30, 2010; review here.

Jan van der Marck, former chief curator at the Detroit Institute of Arts, dies. On his views about art and society, see here.

Piet Mondriaan and Islam


This is a Dutch video about works by Piet Mondriaan in daily life.

Yesterday at the railway station.

A group of teenage girls passes, probably from Muslim families. Most of them with uncovered hair. One, however, wears a black headscarf. Another girl wears a headscarf with a colourful pattern, based on a painting by famous twentieth century Dutch painter Piet Mondriaan.

I wonder what Islamophobes who get so hysterical about headscarves, as supposedly ‘medieval’, would say about this. Will they talk about some evil conspiracy between Islam and twentieth century abstract painting, which they probably hate as well for some reason or other?

Piet Mondriaan’s Victory Boogie Woogie and science


This is a Dutch video about Piet Mondriaan’s Victory Boogie Woogie; and the MOLAB research on it.

From New Scientist:

I’M HOLDING a long black stick just millimetres from a delicate artwork worth at least $45 million. The work is a painting called Victory Boogie Woogie, the last piece by influential Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. And if I lose concentration, I could end up poking the stick right through it.

At the end of the stick is a painted white circle that is being photographed, together with my hand, by a member of MOLAB, a roving team of Italian art conservation researchers. Along with their transport – a van stuffed full of the latest analytical equipment – these researchers form part of a collaboration of 12 European institutions called Eu-ARTECH. …

Here at the Gemeente Museum in The Hague, Netherlands, MOLAB is collaborating with the Netherlands Institute of Cultural Heritage (ICN) to give Victory Boogie Woogie its first thorough scientific examination. The artwork is a feast of colour and motion – an impression created by patterns of interlocking coloured squares, some painted, others simply bits of coloured paper, card and plastic tape that are stuck or glued to the canvas. Mondrian almost certainly planned to replace the paper and tape with paint, but he died before he could complete the task. So the researchers’ aim is to find out exactly what materials he used, which parts were painted first or painted over later, or if bits were removed altogether. The secret hope of almost everyone here is to get a glimpse of Mondrian’s working style, a chance to get inside his head – and perhaps even discover how he intended this work to look when completed. …

Victory Boogie Woogie stands in sharp contrast to Mondrian’s previous works, rigid compositions with bold black lines and large patches of primary colours. Instead, it is a vibrant, rhythmic counterpart to the jazz music that surrounded Mondrian as he worked in 1940s New York. In January 1944, during the final two weeks of his life, he worked furiously on the painting. Those who saw it say the painting changed dramatically during this period, as Mondrian used coloured paper and plastic tape to quickly change the composition. The complexity this created makes the painting enormously difficult to analyse: it comprises some 582 different coloured sections which the Gemeente Museum team has meticulously numbered and recorded.

Major restoration programme for Mondrian paintings: here.