Piet Mondrian’s Reinvention of Pictorial Space and Vision of a ‘Neoplastic’ Utopia


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships


Art History


Piet Mondrian, the Dutch pioneer of abstract painting, is famous for his stark, geometric compositions (1915-44). His influential works have been interpreted primarily (via Clement Greenberg) in terms of modernist "flatness." However, Mondrian conceived his "Neoplasticism" as a reinvention of pictorial space with the purpose of creating an integrative, harmonious environment. Drawing on Mondrian's sometimes abstruse and esoteric writings, my book project proposes a revisionary account of his paintings in line with his ideals and greatest achievements. These manifest the hopes and ideology of Dutch modernism and envision a utopian spatial and social harmony. Mondrian translated a native democratic impulse into an art of universal appeal that still awaits a fitting contextualization.