Of course you have heard of Mondrian. You know his work. You know that it is simple yet confusing (god knows why but it makes me think of vast open wildernesses). You've heard of De Stijl and you know he shares some principles with the Bauhaus and "...ism" movements of the inter-war years. These facts are exactly why you should go and see this exhibition and learn more.
Following the modern curators routine of finding "an angle" to present collections (rather than for example a chronological walk through) Mondrian & his studios have chosen to focus on the artist's relationship with his working environment. I've encountered plenty of Mondrians over the years. YSL and Look Bicycles borrowed ideas when I was a kid and then more recently original paintings in London, New York and Amsterdam. To be honest though I knew very little about him. He worked in Paris from 1912 for example which for me further legitimises the French use of his work in fashion and textiles, something that had bothered me before. The main thing I learned though was that Mondrian immediately decorated his studios upon moving in, to reflect and link with the canvases. He saw (along with many contemporaries of the time) that creativity is all encompassing and that Industrial Age art had immense social potential. Tate have recreated his Montparnase studio which is fun to walk around and raised in me a sense of modernist ideas pressurised and ready to explode from the studio, effecting all around it.
Anyway, all I know about art is that I like looking at it and that art that I consider "good" makes me ask questions and wonder a little. Mondrian definitely does that. Two questions I was left with are:
- why does he sign his name on the canvasses. Doesn't such a disturbance take away from the effect? To me its a distraction, like a neighbours football landing in a zen garden.
- his work in New York around 1943 seems much more "busy" and complex. Does that reflect the complexity of New York life, the aggresion of war or the rhythm and pace of the Jazz scene that he embraced?
I like Mondrians art very much. I think he is really important and influential.
Tate Liverpool is boss as well. Check the view from inside..