Abstract art shows occur so frequently that they crowd the mind. The style is more than a century old and you have to wonder what else can be said about it. http://www.examiner.com/article/abstract-art-serves-an-unexpected-purpose
But such look-sees don’t always help. Consider Piet Mondrian’s genesis as an abstract painter. It’s been said that he started out painting landscapes the way Impressionists would, but the chaos of modern life drove him to seek order and express reality in its purest form – with unmixed primary colors in grids of straight black lines. And he’s often quoted arguing the point: “All painting is composed of line and color and must be freed from bondage to the imitation of nature.”
Mondrian has also been credited with another reason to paint abstractions: the geometric look has appeal for the modern mind because it looks technical. Granted his geometry is not without life. He did, after all , enliven it through the drama of contrast: between line and shape, between the vertical and horizontal direction of the lines, between the colored squares and black lines.
And sometimes, rather than chance a static look that straight lines may create, Mondrian varied his shapes as in “Diamond Painting in Red, Yellow and Blue. And in “Broadway Boogie-Woogie” he also varied the format of his colored squares by suggesting grids of city streets. The squares of red and yellow evoke traffic lights and headlights with a kind of blinking rhythm of a city, not unlike a syncopated musical beat.
Mondrian was such a protagonist for abstraction that he wrote nearly 100,000-word argument against recognizable imagery, saying stuff like, “Non-figurative art shows that art is not the expression of the appearance of reality such as we see it, nor of the life which we live, but that it is the expression of true reality and true life... indefinable, but realizable…Nature is a damned wretched affair.”
And a story told by Kandinsky’s wife, Nina, illustrates the point. “I will never forget Piet Mondrian’s visit to our apartment. It was on a glorious spring day. The chestnut trees in front of our building were in blossom and Kandinsky had placed the little tea-table in such a way that Mondrian, from where he was seated, could look out on all of their flowering splendor. Mondrian, of course, insisted on taking a different seat, so as to turn his back on nature.”
ALL that said, history also shows that even as a boy, Mondrian resisted representing nature as it appears. He said it himself: “I preferred to paint landscapes and house scenes in grey, dark weather or in very strong sunlight, when the density of atmosphere obscures the detail.”
Doesn’t that sound like all the rationales for going abstract were an afterthought? Doesn’t it sound like he just came that way?