Sunday, January 18, 2009

Art Learnin'

So I just watched this show on Ovation TV about Piet Mondrian, who several artists and art critics called, and I quote "a nutjob." Hmm. Not what I was expecting. But fascinating. He was a bad student in art school and hated painting the human form, an aversion contributed to by his strict Calvinist upbringing. Then he got into some hokey religion called Theosophy and thought he could order the world through his painting. He moved further and further away from nature in his work, because he distrusted it. Nature was messy.

His big turning point was making these horizontal and vertical lines, horizontal representing the male in some abstract (phallic) way and vertical representing the female (let's not even go there). He evidently wrote extensively about his work, trying to explain it, and no one understood what the hell he was talking about. He moved from making these loose black lines in the bottom painting to making the tightly constructed closed boxes in the top painting, trying to bring more and more order to the world.

I always wondered if he measured out his squares or used math in any concrete way to choose how many squares were red and how many were white, because that's what I liked about it, how it all seemed to balance so well, to be in the right proportions. It turns out that was all intuitive. He'd make rough sketches and then refine them and play with the color blocks until he thought it was "right." So that's what made him a "true" artist, so said one of the critics in the show. But he also a nutter! How do you like that?!

1 comment:

Chris said...

Oh, my, this reminds me of this documentary I just saw called My ARchitect. It's about this guy Louis Kahn, and what a genius he was, but also a complete loon.

How many women did Mondrian have babies with? I bet Kahn wins that one!