Marking the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth, Fondation Beyeler devoted an exclusive exhibition to the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. Namely “Mondrian Evolution”, the exhibition that brings together over 80 artworks by the great master of abstract (1872-1944) is currently on display at the Fondation Beyeler through to 9th October 2022 in Switzerland.
As partners of “Mondrian Evolution”, La Prairie and Fondation Beyeler come together as two Swiss institutions sharing their commitment to quality and precision – joining forces to inspire a greater appreciation of the arts. Furthermore, this project saw the scientific investigation and conservation of four pivotal Mondrian paintings that delivered beauty and visibility for future generations.
Mondrian saw painting as a process in pursuit of the ultimate beauty, which he achieved through precision and intuition to evoke complete compositional harmony. Using the latest conservation techniques, the project proposes that Mondrian, known as the most important precursor of modern abstraction, revisited and revised paintings, sometimes spanning years.
Years of research into the artist, combined with the discoveries from the Piet Mondrian Conservation Project, led Senior Curator at the Fondation Beyeler Ulf Küster to show Mondrian’s journey to abstraction. It was an evolution the artist himself proclaimed as, one that unfolded in surprising ways.
Working from the Fondation Beyeler’s own collection – home to the largest number of Mondrian’s works in a Swiss museum – as well as loans from public and private collections alike, Küster is able to showcase Mondrian’s tireless efforts to find the essence of painting itself.
“Nature was always the guiding principle of his art, the subject of his ultimate achievement,” said Küster. The source of even Mondrian’s most abstract pieces was nature, a notion the curator lays out quite carefully for visitors in room after room of “Mondrian Evolution.”
As one of the most important artists of the avant-garde movement, Mondrian shaped the evolution of painting from figuration to abstraction. His early work was influenced not only by late 19th century Dutch landscape painting but also by Symbolism and Cubism. It was only in the early 1920s that he began concentrating on a wholly non-representational pictorial vocabulary consisting solely of rectilinear arrangements of black lines on a white background and the three primary colours blue, red and yellow.
While the collection from the Fondation Beyeler focuses primarily on works from the later phases of Mondrian’s career, the exhibition will look at his development as an artist up to the 1920s and the stylistic genesis of his later work. Separate sections will deal with motifs such as windmills, dunes and seascapes, the farmstead reflected in water and plants in various states of abstraction.
Offering these cross-comparisons allows visitors to witness the manner in which the artist arrived at his most iconic series. Both experimental and daring, his lifelong artistic pursuit was to accomplish in painting the same natural harmony and beauty found in nature.