As you might know, some great art in history came from my country, the Netherlands.Yes I’m a Dutch artist and I am grateful to be a part of that legacy. Everybody knows the fantasy world from Jeroen Bosch, the realism from Rembrandt and Vermeer and the expresionism from Van Gogh, but to my surprise people all over the world seem to know Mondriaan even better! How did he do that with only lines and fields in primary colors and just black and white? I’ve been asking myself that question for 30 years now. I never really liked what he did but it was certainly fascinating. Mondriaan raises questions whether you like his work or not. I was more a Lissitzky-fan who is much more complex.
Together with the interior designer Gerrit Rietveld these three men have shaped the world around us much more than we realize. All three of them had an interest in architecture too.The Rietveld house is a marvel that you can still visit today.
It’s all about composition. Reducing shapes to their basic form and compose them on a surface or in 3D and turn it into a great composition. It’s mathematics in its purest quality and that’s why it is art. It is as fundamental as Bach’s music theory. Bach discovered that he could push the string of a violin at a certain point and than the note was exactly the same as the open string, just higher. In his opinion, that made the circle round. He called it an octave and pictured it as a circle. He devided the circle in sections but it never sounded right. But than he discovered that if he devided the circle in even sections and two smaller sections, it all ts. And he gave us the ABCDEFG, the music theory that we all use today with just half a note between B and C and between E and F.That’s mathematics, it’s art, it’s a composition by itself, well tempered tuning that announced a whole new way of experiencing music.
When you look at Mondriaan’s Victory Boogie Woogie you see art, it’s an amazing composition that makes the Boogie Woogie play in your head. They did not only in uence other artists but also architects and interior designers so their in uence is in our buildings and all around us. They shaped our world. It’s in the skylines from big cities.You can see that very well in Rotterdam. Rotterdam was the rst city that was bombed from the air in the history of mankind. At the time it was as shocking as theTwinTowers going down.The whole city center was wiped out.After the war a group of very good architects had the opportunity to design a master plan to rebuild it.They managed to combine the few old buildings that were left with the new buildings and all buildings are relating to their surrounding.They turned it into a beautiful composition.
I can look at the city, and see it as a composition. In the evening, when the sky turns orange and red, it sounds like the steel sounds from Björk but when I start walking and see the buildings move in front of each other, the violins and cellos tune in, than I t in the sounds of the street and my feet are the beat. It’s music, it’s a com- position where every street has it’s own tune. It’s art, it’s Mondriaan, Rietveld and of course Rem Koolhaas. So when I paint the city, it becomes a Mondriaan.
So next time your feet hit the street when the evening sky turns red, don’t get into your car. Start with un- plugging your earphones and throw your smartphone in the river.Then look around you, take a deep breath and just start walking. See it, hear it, compose it, feel it, live it.
Mondriaan started with painting landscapes but he did not really like it so he shaped the land. That’s fine art.
Duco de Kruif.