Piet Mondrian: Of War and Fashion

The last time I had to wait in Heathrow airport, I noticed Mondrian was back.

Luxury shops proudly traded their usual colors for blue, red, yellow and white. His style is know internationally and pretty much everything exists in the M pattern.

Mondrian cake

One of the most famous interpretations of his work is Yves Saint Laurent’s collection, created in 1965.  One particular dress was such a hit it was later presented at the Universal Exposition of Seville in 1992 and remains a timeless classic.


In 2002, when Yves St Laurent decided to put an end to the brand’s “haute couture” range, the dress was reedited.

Trying to understand Piet Mondrian’s message, and the meaning behind his work makes me wonder, is a dress really the appropriate way to celebrate his vision? To use his words:

“The emotion of beauty is always obscured by the appearance of the object. Therefore, the object must be eliminated from the picture.”

 Is fashion really the face of artistic and pure beauty?

Going back in time, we find out that just like most painters struggle to find the right angle, Mondrian was no exception. From fauvism so cubism, he finally created his own: neo-plasticism. I do not intend today to go into too much depth but it is up to you to look up “De Stijl” (literally, Dutch for “the style”) to find out more about the artistic philosophy he shared not only with painters but also architects.

Red and Blue Chair designed by Gerrit Rietveld in 1917

What I find really fascinating about this artist, is his ability to extract beauty from nature and reflect it in 2D using only his intuition.

When you look into it, a piece that looks so straight an organized is in fact nothing else but the painter’s sensibility. There is video I wish I could find, that the army used to make their soldiers watch to explain artillery tactics: allies and enemies troops were schematized by little squares of different shades of grey. Mondrian realised, any conflict, any feeling could be drawn as a collision between two sets of color blocs.

And the journey continues, blocs become lines, lines represent streets.

New York City I by Piet Mondrian

Try it yourself, look around you, remember the colors that strike you, the main lines that support the whole canvass.

Or, the other way around, what do you think is hidden behind all of Mondrian’s work?


How times have changed, don’t you think? Will any of our contemporary artists inspire fashion, music, and architecture? When you think Lamartine was named minister after the King read one of his poems, the past appears to be much more of a sensitive place.

I will let you reflect on that thought, I’ll dry my nostalgic tears with these:


See you soon!

This entry was published on June 21, 2013 at 6:13 pm. It’s filed under Inspiration, Painting and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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