Mondrian and His Studios, Mondrian and Colour – reviews

Jun 11, 2014

Two new UK shows, one 'complex', one 'joyous', reveal dramatically different sides of a modern master

© 2014 Mondrian/Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International USA

What you need to know Two new exhibitions of the work of Dutch modern master Piet Mondrian have opened in the UK: Mondrian and His Studios at Tate Liverpool, and Mondrian and Colour at Turner Contemporary, Margate. Mondrian is considered a key figure in the development of abstract art in the 20th century and these companion shows commemorate the 70th anniversary of the artist's death.

Mondrian and his Studios looks at the relationship between Mondrian's mature art and its context in terms of space and architecture by presenting key Mondrian paintings alongside a life-size reconstruction of the artist's Paris Studio, until 5 October. Mondrian and Colour showcases Mondrian's early work, tracing the painter's use of colour from more traditional landscapes to early abstraction, until 21 September. 

What the critics like
To see these two Mondrian shows is "to witness something like aesthetic schizophrenia", says Laura Cumming in The Observer. Tate Liverpool shows the single-minded monk of the grids, but the real revelation is the terrific Margate show of passionate, joyous high-chrome images of the artist's youth.

Tate Liverpool's show focuses on the mature phase of Mondrian's career and the reconstruction of his studio "gives us a vivid idea of Mondrian's ideas about space and form", says Adrian Searle in The Guardian. While the Turner Contemporary show traces the longer arc of his development from the Dutch landscape tradition through to the austere, beautiful and pared-down Lozenge Composition With Four Yellow Lines.

Tate Liverpool's "compact but complex" show leads you into a new avant-garde realm, bringing together more of Mondrian's neo-plastic works than have ever before been assembled in this country, says Rachel Campbell Johnson in The Times. If you only have time to see one Mondrian show, make it this one.

What they don't like
"Some visitors to the Turner Contemporary may feel disappointed at the small number of 'typical' Mondrian paintings," says Mark Hudson in the Daily Telegraph. But the development from Mondrian's earliest landscapes to his abstract work represents a journey, a process of formal and metaphysical striving that is almost impossible to imagine in art today.

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