October 29, 2022–February 12, 2023
2022 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Piet Mondrian. In the entire exhibition Mondrian, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen is using this as an occasion to celebrate him and his work. Evolution. The hard geometric compositions with black-and-white lines and fields of unadulterated color in red, blue, or yellow are characteristic of Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), a painter well known for his work. However, it is barely recognized that the Dutchman initially preferred landscapes and other representational motifs throughout the early years of his career and frequently presented these with unexpected color. The K20 exhibition examines Mondrian’s amazing transition from the early realistic paintings to the late abstract works using 90 works, and it analyzes the formal relationships between the paintings that span five decades.
The idea of “evolution” is crucial to this process. Evolution means trying new things for Mondrian in order to advance his artistic abilities. Visual axes are constructed in the chronologically mounted exhibition, allowing works from various phases to be juxtaposed with one another in order to show this methodical movement in Mondrian’s work. For instance, the juxtaposition of the Neoplastic piece Composition in Blue and White (1936) with the Impressionist painting Lighthouse in Westkapelle (1910) illustrates the artist’s remarkably meticulous growth. The juxtaposition demonstrates that Mondrian was a visionary painter even as a child.
The Fondation Beyeler and the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen collaborated closely with the Kunstmuseum Den Haag to develop the exhibition Mondrian. Evolution. Werner Schmalenbach, the founding director of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, acquired four Neoplastic works by Mondrian through the intermediary of Ernst Beyeler: Composition with Yellow (1930), Composition with Blue and White (1936), Rhythm of Straight Lines (1937–42), bought in the early 1960s, and the well-known New York City I (1941), with a time delay in 1980.
Curators: Kathrin Beßen and Susanne Meyer-Büser for K20 K21 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen
A digital brochure that is included with the show offers multimedia insights into the artist’s various creative stages as well as background data on Piet Mondrian’s work and life. K+ can be accessed while viewing the show on a smartphone or tablet by scanning QR codes located at various locations throughout the exhibition space.
Exhibition diary for children
Children from the age of six are guided around the exhibition with the use of fun search activities and artistic-creative exercises in the exhibition notebook. Young visitors can thereby engage in a lively exploration of Piet Mondrian’s artwork. The exhibition schedule is freely available at the ticket counter.
Publication: Mondrian. Evolution
Edited by Susanne Gaensheimer, Kathrin Beßen, and Susanne Meyer-Büser, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, together with Sam Keller and Ulf Küster, Fondation Beyeler. With essays by Kathrin Beßen, Ulf Küster, Susanne Meyer-Büser, Charlotte Sarrazin, Bridget Riley, Benno Temple, and Caro Verbeek. German and English edition, Hatje Cantz Verlag. 264 pages, 44 euros
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