1 August 2014

Mondrian at the Tate

A few weeks ago I was kindly invited to the private view of Tate Liverpool's summer exhibition of Mondrian and his Studios.  I did intend to write about this much earlier, but life intervened as it often does.

The exhibition is timed to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the artist's death and it tracks his path from figurative art through to abstraction.  As well as the largest number of neo-plastic paintings by Mondrian ever exhibited in Britain, it also has a life size reconstruction of his Parisian studio.  I'm not a huge fan of Mondrian's paintings but this and the personal items on display are absolutely fascinating.

Yes I saw that you all baulked when I said I wasn't a fan.  Personally if you've seen one Broadway Boogie Woogie you've seen them all, however,  the principles of De Stjil are right up there in my book.  De Stjil was the Dutch avant-garde movement which Mondrian founded and it is their principles which has had such a profound effect on both the art and design worlds.  There is a direct line from the ideas propounded by De Stjil to modernism and minimalism, both of which I am very fond of.   Yes we have had the Yves St Laurent De Stjil dress, Sarah Schofield's De Stjil swimsuit as well as a million tacky Mondrianesque prints on everything from trainers to plastic bags.  

It is the idea of distilling both colour and form down to their essential forms as well as the use of asymmetry is where the real impact, especially in fashion is felt.  Without Mondrian and his ideas on abstraction, we would not have the concepts of colour blocking, nor the elegant simplicity of designers such as Raf Simons work at Jil Sander, Phoebe Philo at Celine or Maison Martin Margiela amongst many, many others. 

Raf Simons for Jil Sander Fall 2012

Phoebe Philo at Celine 2011

Maison Martin Margiela SS 2013

Individual collections such as Prada's Fall 2011 collection have also directly referenced Mondrian with the use of grid lines and colour blocking.

Running alongside the Mondrian exhibition is another lesser known, but still extremely influential artist, Nasreen Mohamedi.  Born and bred in India, she too moved from the figurative to minimal abstract art.  This for me, is the highlight of the Tate's summer offering  and I urge you all, no scrap that, I command you all to go and see it and drink in its monochromatic simplicity, tis pure beauty.  Her photographs especially are worth a long shufty.  In comparison to the familiarity and coldness (in my eyes anyway) of Mondrian, Mohamedi's work has a quiet elegance which I found quite moving.

Mondrian and his Studios and Nasreen Mohamedi runs from 6th June to 5th October.
More info can be found here Tate Liverpool

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