Review for Piet Mondrian’s Plastic Art and Pure Plastic Art, 1937, and Other Essays, 1941-1943.

Mondrian believes in an objective and universal expression. The “pure reality” that he was after cannot be found in subjective expression, because the subjective feeling, evoked by particular forms and natural color, obscures “pure reality.” Even though the appearance of natural forms is in constant changing, the absolute reality remains. Therefore,it is necessary to reduce natural forms to the “constant elements of form” and reduce natural colors to “primary color.” He also clarified two approach to arrive at “a larger unit”: (1) the reality can be only expressed through the equilibrium of dynamic movement of form and color; (2) relationship and dynamic movement can be established through contrasts and oppositions of expressive means; and right angle is the only constant relationship to making living…

For Mondrian, there can be no balancing of diverse elements within the canvas, no approach to the absolute through the delights of the eye. Not even the geometrical figure is permitted, since a rectangle is after all a particular form and so not finally pure; when one does appear spontaneously as the “logical consequence of its determining lines,” it must “be neutralized through the composition.” The aim of art is “the direct creation of universal beauty,” which is equivalent to the achievement of “the universal expression of reality.” From his theory as he develops it in writing, the intervening canvas and its colors seem regrettable material facts, and pure vision of the”hidden laws of nature” preferable; one would not suspect that Mondrian was a man of painfully acute vision who spent weeks and months upon the delicate relationships of lines and spaces, and who made a whole generation of painters aware of a new kind of spatial structure.

Posted by:Liyang DING

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