As a gallery educator at The Phillips Collection, I have the pleasure of facilitating tours and conversing with visitors about inspiring artworks in the collection. One of my favorite paintings to discuss is Painting No, 9 (1939-42) by Piet Mondrian. As a non-objective painting composed of primary colors and geometric shapes it is easy to walk past and think “Got it.” However, if you slow down and think about what Mondrian is doing in his art, the painting can take on an entirely new and exciting perspective. While visitors may not become Mondrian converts after our tour conversation, I frequently hear “You know, Mondrian may not be my favorite, but I have a much greater appreciation for what he set out to accomplish.”
Much like a visitor to the museum, I encourage you to slow down, click here and spend a few minutes learning to appreciate the simplicity and idealism of Mondrian.
While looking at the painting, ask yourself: What do I see? (Literally, what shapes, lines, colors?) Imagine removing or adding an additional line or square of color; how does the artwork change? Look at the relationship between the black lines and the blocks of color; does the black line appear to be consistently above or on top of the color blocks? How does the interplay between the black lines and blocks of color suggest depth? Continue reading