Piet Mondriaan [1872-1944]

Lozenge composition with yellow lines

Piet Mondriaan (Amersfoort, 1872-New York, 1944) is one of the founding fathers of abstract art. His oeuvre clearly reveals his path from realist figurative art to radical abstraction. Especially his later geometric-abstract work with the characteristic fields of primary colours and horizontal and vertical lines are worldfamous. After a figurative start, Mondriaan changes to abstract, nonrepresentational art in the beginning of the twentieth century. Mondriaan writes in 1919: ‘Finally the artist no longer needs a natural phenomenon to create an ideal of beauty.' At that time his so characteristic colours of his later works appear: red, yellow and blue. Compositie with yellow lines (1933) is in that regard atypical within Mondriaan's oeuvre, since he only uses yellow and white.

Composition with yellow lines enters the collection of Kunstmuseum through an initiative by painter Charley Toorop (1891-1955) in 1933. Together with artist and architecture friends, she organizes a benefit to celebrate Mondriaan's sixtieth birthday. This benefit is meant to raise money to purchase a painting by Mondriaan to gift to a museum. Consequently Composition with yellow lines ends up in the Kunstmuseum, which initially is unsure how this work fits in their collection. As a result this work, togeteher with other abstract paintings by amongst others Bart van der Leck and Theo van Doesburg, are hung in the stairwells at the time of the opening in 1935.

The square canvas has a smooth, off white surface devoid of the characteristic black lines that feauture in many of Mondriaan's works. Instead he uses yellow lines. All the lines are a tad too small to form a plane, yet too big to simply be lines. There is little contrast between the colours of yellow and white in terms of tone, nonetheless the contrast seems strong to the eye. Mondriaan was worried whether the painting would be hung correctly, namely as a lozenge, and noted instructions to that one the backside of the painting.

Kunstmuseum Den Haag holds the largest Mondriaan collection in the world. From 1950 onwards, collector Salomon B. Slijper together with Louis Wijsenbeek, director of the Kunstmuseum between 1950-1976, he lays the foundations of this collection of paintings and drawings. Mondriaan's Victory Boogie Woogie, his last work from 1942-1944, forms their crowning achievement.

height 80.2 cm
width 79.9 cm
diagonal 112.9 cm
oil on canvas
Object number
Kunstmuseum Den Haag - gift of the admirers of the artist represented by Charley Toorop