Blocks of Color on a Block in Brooklyn

You may not know his paintings. You might not even be familiar with his name. But the legacy of Piet Mondrian’s work is inescapable.

The Dutch artist, who was most active in the period between World War I and World War II, created deceptively simple works that reduced painting to its essential elements.

In 1917 Mondrian, along with a few other artists, founded the De Stijl movement which rejected representational painting and advocated a visual vocabulary that was restricted to straight lines, bright blocks of color and shades of black, white, and gray.

Mondrian dubbed the minimalist style neoplasticism and believed that it both freed him from traditional contraints and allowed him to portray his spirituality via images of clarity, purity and harmony.

The style, if not the spiritual message, of Mondrian and the other De Stijl artists spread rapidly across Europe and America, influencing the design of everything from wrapping paper to architecture.  

In the early 1940s, seeking artistic and political freedom, Mondrian came to New York City. He spent the last years of his life working here and is buried in Cyress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn.

When I saw this painted structure on a run-down block near the Brooklyn waterfront, I was reminded of how much the city influenced Mondrian’s work, and how — whether or not we are aware of it — his use of line and color affect the way we see our surroundings every day.

Composition with Color Planes and Gray Lines 1
Composition with Color Planes and Gray Lines 1

Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow
Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow

New York City
New York City

Broadway Boogie Woogie
Broadway Boogie Woogie

Mondrian's Studio at the Time of His Death
Mondrian’s studio at the time of his death

Fence on DeGraw Street
Fence on DeGraw Street

House on DeGraw Street
House on DeGraw Street

Artcyclopedia: Piet Mondrian
Encyclopedia Britannica: Piet Mondrian
Snap Dragon: Mondrian
Cypress Hills Cemetery


7 Responses to Blocks of Color on a Block in Brooklyn

  1. moi says:

    Guess the house says it all about his compositions… happy you introduced him to us ….I was not aware of him.


  2. photowannabe says:

    In college (way back when…) one full quarter of art class was devoted to Mondrian. We had to document everything that we saw in our everyday lives that was “mondrianish” I find I still see that in many things even after all these years.
    Thanks for the refresher course.


  3. Olivier says:

    tres bon post, j’aime beaucoup les oeuvres de Mondrian. Je trouve la maison, avec les portes en couleurs, est une oeuvre d’art digne de mondrian

    very good post, I like much works of Mondrian. I find the house, with the doors colors, is a work of art worthy of mondrian


  4. moi says:

    like the idea of documenting everything that we saw in our everyday lives that was “mondrianish” as photowannabe talked about…reminds me of rubric cube 🙂


  5. Wonderful post 🙂


  6. Trotter says:

    Mondrian is one of my favourites. I particularly love the 2nd, 3rd and 4th you showed. Did you see the Mondrian exhibition at the MOMA October 1995/January 1996? It was fantastic and the book they made then is fabulous…


  7. Cees W. de Jong says:

    Have seen the ifo, snapdragonmondrian. I am the publisher of the Catalogue Raisonne Piet Mondrian, by Joop Joosten and Robert Welsch.
    Please informe me about your project.


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