Mondriaan Year in the Netherlands

On arriving in The Hague, the first sign they are serious about Mondriaan and The Style there, are buildings sporting “Mondriaan” colours. Cinemas, modern town hall and others sport some combination of white, black, yellow, red, blue.

The modern town hall, designed by an American architect, is a good example. The townhall-the-hague-mondriaanMondriaan Year will focus not just on Piet Mondriaan himself. There will be exhibitions on De Stijl (the Style) movement and its impact, Dutch Design, artists who influenced or were influenced by Piet Mondriaan.

At The Hague, the Gemeentemuseum kicked off the Mondriaan Year, by having King Willem-Alexander open its latest exhibition in February. The museum owns the largest collection of Mondriaan art. It has one of the world’s largest De Stijl collections.

Members of the Stijl included Piet Mondriaan, Gerrit Rietveld, Theo van Doesburg and Bart van der Leck. The movement and artists continue to influence Dutch art and especially design right up till the present.

obama-visits-mondriaanThe present exhibition shows how Bart van der Leck and Piet Mondriaan influenced each other. Nowadays, Mondriaan is best known for his paintings using the colours white, black, red, yellow and blue. Former US President Obama was photographed with one of these paintings in the back ground, while spending time in the Netherlands.

But Mondriaan was not the first to use and explore these colours. Paintings in the exhibition show, that Bart van der Leck started using them in his monumental paintings. Van der Leck inspired Mondriaan to experiment with the colour-combinations.

This exhibition also shows videos of one of the rooms of a “hunting lodge”, the Hubertus Slot, on the Veluwe in the Netherlands. This was built for husband and wife Kröller-Müller. Helene Kröller-Müller was an important patron of modern artists. Her first modern art museum was located in The Hague, but later moved to the specially created Kröller-Müller Museum .

bart-van-der-leck-modernismOf all the exhibits, it was a painting by Bart van der Leck which impressed me most. It shows Dutch fishermen’s wives, a dyke, a possible shipwreck. It totally illustrates the creative development from Jan Toorop, his daughter Charley Toorop, Bart van der Leck’s art, Piet Mondriaan’s experiments, to – take Dutch Dick Bruna and his Miffy.

As for Mondriaan’s exhibited works: in one of the niches are what I think were coloured drawings of flowers. These are highly unusual – which Mondriaan’s contemporaries also notice – in being totally traditional. But then, these works were park of a selection which were explicitly made for the more staid market. The proceeds of their sale was going to help a good cause.

Later into this Mondriaan Year, there will be more exhibitions in other museums as well. Utrecht and Amersfoort will commemorate the fact that the four most important members of De Stijl were born in the area. The area where the Kröller-Möller Museum is to be found as well.

Visiting the The Hague Gemeentemuseum? Their fashion exhibition “To Audrey – with Love” showing fashion created by Hubert de Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn, can be found opposite the “Mondriaan and van der Leck” one till
Gemeente Museum The Hague
Kröller-Müller Museum


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