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Mondrian, pioneer of neoplasticism
The use of abstract shapes such as squares, lines and rectangles is a way for painters to attain a certain ‘cosmic thought’. This is the case with Mondrian who started using geometric shapes after 1917. He mainly painted on square-shaped canvases, which he called ‘tiles’.
Mondrian’s works after his involvement in founding neoplasticism are quite austere. As is the case with modernist architecture, it is often the means and philosophy that outweigh the aesthetic quality. As a result, these paintings are perceived as impersonal and too dogmatic to actually engage with the viewer.
Piet Mondriaan was part of the De Stijl movement in the Netherlands. The movement was founded by Theo van Doesburg with the publication of an art magazine from 1917 to 1932. This review included contributions from painters, designers and architects. The codes of the movement are defined by the use of geometric shapes and a limited range of colors: red, blue, yellow, and non-colors: black, white, and grey.
By using abstract shapes and a simple aesthetic identity, these artists aimed at producing art that was no longer subjective but universal. This desire to find new ways of representation also came from the many changes society at large was undergoing in the beginning of the 20th century.
In the same way as with the Bauhaus movement in Germany, De Stijl was multidisciplinary. Its essence and influence could be found in many creations of the time, such as paintings, furniture, or individual houses.