March 7, 2013 - Happy Birthday, Piet Mondrian!

Have you ever looked at a piece of art and asked yourself, “Why is THIS art?”

 I bet some people have looked at Piet Mondrian's paintings of lines and color, rectangles and squares, and asked themselves that very question. It's hard to explain exactly what art is, but one thing I think I can safely say is that if a maker says that the thing he or she made is art, it's art.
That doesn't mean it's good. It doesn't mean it's popular. It doesn't mean people will want to spend ten cents on it, let alone ten thousand dollars. It doesn't mean that a gallery or museum will display it......but it still counts as art, I think, if the maker intended it to be art.

Well, today's birthday boy created paintings that ARE good. And popular.

They have sold for up to 40 million dollars!

They hang in museums and galleries all over the world.

Mondrian's paintings most definitely are art!

The guy could paint realistically, too...

Like most modern artists, Mondrian (who was born in the Netherlands on this date in 1872) could make representational art very well. His trees looked like trees, his windmills looked like windmills, and you could recognize piers and beaches, rivers and fields in his paintings.
This tree shows Mondrian's
experimentation with cubism,
on his way to his own distinct

However, cubism and Bart van der Leck's primary-colored paintings influenced Mondrian. He began to try to express the beauties of nature through abstraction. He thought that the proportion and composition of each painting—the placement of the lines and shapes, and their relative size to one another—spoke of beauty itself rather than of a beautiful tree, a beautiful waterfall, or a beautiful something.

Mondrian and van der Leck founded an art movement called De Stijl (the style).

Mondrian's last studio...

Mondrian grew up in the Netherlands, went to Paris when he was 40 years old, and after some back-and-forth between the two nations, finally went to London and then the United States to escape Hitler's Nazis.

Mondrian's last studio was in Manhattan, New York. He painted the walls and furniture of his studio off-white—the same color that was the base color he used in his paintings—and he painted the top of his metal stool a bright, glossy red. He also painted the cover of his phonograph (record player) the same red color. Finally, he had bright colored papers that he tacked and retacked to the walls in ever-changing compositions. Mondrian and visitors found the studio energizing and restful, at the same time!

By the Way...

Have you heard of the latest art-in-public-places fad? It's called LEGO-bombing, and it reminds of a bit of Mondrian's wonderful art...Check it out!

Celebrate by creating Mondrian-style art yourself!

Create a piece by hand, using sharpies and colored markers and a ruler or T-square...or use a computer drawing program. Or you could create a piece using a paper cutter and colored paper. Try more than one method, and compare...

Be inspired to further experiment by looking at this Pinterest board

Also on this date:

Scientist Stanley Miller's birthday

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