Mondrian was the focus for Week Two of the Inventing Abstraction class at the MMFA. Our instructor, Jessica Houston, spoke less this week, possibly because she feels her French is not adequate for the francophones in the group. I was sorry about that because I felt an overview of Mondrian's work would have been useful.
We launched immediately into working in pairs. One of us was given a reproduction of a Mondrian painting, concealing it from our partner. We were to describe it in detail so our partner could reproduce it with paint and paper. A great exercise. Here is the image I described to Peter,
and here is what he produced:
Then it was my turn. Here is the image that Peter described to me
This activity really required you to look at the original in detail and describe it accurately.
Then we were asked to do a quick painted sketch of a plant, using only black and white. Here is the plant
Jessica made some kind comments about how I was able to create a play of positive/negative, and how, like Mondrian, I had created some "live" spots where the eye is tricked into seeing a colour at the empty vortex. I discovered how very difficult it is to create a neutral kind of pattern that appears to be totally random. It would be interesting to reproduce this on a painted background with some minimal flow of colour.
Mondrian is better known for his later work, so it was good to learn about his evolution from expressionism to abstraction. Our instructor explained that essentially all his early work was based on the form of a tree. He felt that all natural forms could be reduced to a vertical/horizontal structure.
|Grey Tree, 1911|
|Composition No. II: Composition in Line and Colour, 1913|
|Broadway Boogie-Woogie, 1942-43|