Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, 'Mondrian Evolution'. Foto/Photo: TES.

Plans for the Mondrian exhibition provided the impetus to set up the Piet Mondrian Conservation Project. The focus of the project, starting in 2019 and running to 2021, is on Long-term preservation of the paintings for future generations, the technical investigation of the seven paintings held by the Fondation Beyeler and the reconstruction of original framing and new design approaches to the presentation of Mondrian paintings.

The end of the project is the start of the exhibition ‘Mondrian Evolution’.  Piet Mondriaan (1872-1944) became Piet Mondrian in Paris in 1911. Marking the 150th anniversary of his birth, the Fondation devotes a comprehensive exhibition tot he Dutch painter. As one of the most significant artists of the avant garde, he decisively shaped the evolution from figuration to abstraction from the 1920’s onwards.

The exhibition is largely chronologica land shows his artistic development from a late 19th century Dutch landscape painter to his famous rectilinear arrangements of black lines and the three primary colours blue, red and yellow.

The exhibition shows, however, the straight line from the Dutch landscapes, dunes, sea, farm houses and mills to his abstraction as a process of different feelings and perceptions, between intuition and precision, trut hand beauty, the very sense of unity and the very essence of the image.

Mondrian used the term ‘evolution’ himself, as an accumulation of experiences, on which a new phase of artistic development could build, in turn leading to new and further insights.

In his earlier works he already experimented with the radiance and colours, the influence of light and the experience of space, surface, structure and reflections.

He was inspired by cubism when he stayed in Paris (1911) and he continued his investigation of themes such as abstraction. After World War I (1914-1918) many artists strove for a radical new cultural beginning. Mondrian attempted to expound his artistic programme in theoretical essays, also in the new Dutch journal De Stijl.

Mondrian named his new style ‘Neoplasticism’. He conceived it as focussing on the essential means of expression: on the hand black and white lines, on the other hand the three primary colours. The interplay of these elements gives rise to infinite possibilities of composition. The exhibition presents the major works  from his Dutch paintings to his New York time.

The fascinating short-film ‘Piet & Mondrian’ by Lars Kraume. Complements the exhibition. The film takes as its starting point his essay from 1920 ‘Natural Reality and Abstract Reality, in which the artist formulated his thoughts and considerations on abstraction art.

Mondrian spent the last 25 years of his life in Paris (1919-1938), London (1938-1940) and New York (1940-1944). He died as a famous avant garde artist and co-founder of abstract painting. He actually paved the way for abstraction after 1945.

The exhibition is part of the celebrations of 25 years of Fondation Beyeler.