Mood-Enhancing Mondrian

I think I found a new favorite art museum: the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague that includes a beautiful collecation about the famous Dutch art movement “De Stijl”, which I did not know much about. Visiting this museum cheered me up for days.

The collection starts with a room with stunningly beautiful early work of Mondrian. I knew almost nothing about him beforehand, except for his famous lines and red, blue and yellow squares, and I was amazed how beautiful his paintings of landscapes and objects are. There is a sun over a few trees captured with so much imagination and depth, a mill in glaringly bright sunlight, so bright that it is hard to even see it well. There is a looming red mill in a blue night which I found hypnotic. And then it slowly becomes more abstract; blooming trees turned into simple geometrical forms.

As a next step, he turns to rectangles and lines. The first such picture is the one which touched me most.

It is called “Composition N. 4”, with colours reminiscent again of blooming trees, or a snowy landscape, ordered into rectangles and lines. To me this painting transmits so much wisdom, groundedness, hope. It made me absurdly happy to look at it.

Mondrian, Composition #4

The paintings then slowly become more pixelized, mathematical, some of them reminiscent of computer programs and computer games, many years before those came into being, in the 1930ies.  Mondrian seemed to move over the previous boundaries of art with so much ease and at the same time a strange carefulness.

Mondriaan, Dambordcompositie

His final, most famous paintings do not really reach me anymore. I know many people find them extremely beautiful. The straight lines and primary colours are amazing seeing that he started by painting windmills and trees; it seems that he thought something to the end that few other artists did at the time.

Nevertheless, for me they are perhaps too well known, too much of an art cliché, or perhaps just too much major key, like trumpet sound, which does not fit with my mood. There are moments where I feel like I can see their beauty, but then it is gone again.

Mondrian, Rhythm of black lines

Nevertheless, he exhibition made me feel like I understand what Mondrian, and other members of the De Stijl movement, wanted to say with their art. Namely, that everything is just like that it should be. That everything is good as it is. And for some reason, I suddenly believed they were right. It is hard to overstate how rarely I feel like this.

So if you are in The Hague, please go visit this fantastic museum. It is an anti-depressant to walk around in, with long-term positive effects.

P.S. No, the Van Gogh museum and Rembrandtmuseum and the Mauritshuis and Hermitage are actually not better.

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One Response to Mood-Enhancing Mondrian

  1. Fabio Noviello says:

    Yep, art can have a positive effect on us. Personally, I understand what the Greeks associated catharsis with theatrical performances every time I exit a theatre (well, most times….),

    BTW, on Sat I’ll be attending a play on the wonderful world of academia, Should be interesting…

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