1872, Amersfoort – 1944, New York
While his early work was somewhat esoteric, Mondrian began to move away from (representational) Cubism towards abstraction in 1911. The Dutch painter lived in Paris from 1912 to 1914 and from 1919 to 1938. From 1916 onwards he devoted himself almost entirely to abstraction. In 1917 he co-founded the De Stijl journal with its associated group of artists, and is widely regarded as the theoretical initiator of this key art-historical movement. The period after 1920 was described by Mondrian as his ‘Neo-plasticist’ phase. At this time he sought an autonomous order of art: based upon fundamental laws of asymmetry, right-angled geometric forms and the use of primary colours only (plus black and white), the aim was to evoke an equilibrium within the picture that reflected the balance of the cosmos. After two years in London, he emigrated to New York in 1940. Mondrian’s art is of enormous importance for the emergence of modernism, whereby the critical reception of his work tends to emphasize form rather than content.