Mondrian Biography

I would like to gather a variety of photographs of Mondrian and details of the various places he lived. There are already several sites charting the periods of his life - I will include links to these rather than repeating the effort. The initial brief biographical notes are taken from the catalogue for the Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition, 1955 [1] and these are gradually being supplemented with detail from other sources, notably the excellent Rue du Départ [2] . There is a full list of sources at the bottom of the page. Most of the images will enlarge when clicked.

See also Mondrian's lifestyle - Friends - Main Mondrian page

The information on Mondrian's studios is summarised in a blog here.

Text biographies - Mondriaanhuis Foundation [3] .

1938-39 This is a detail from one of my favourite Mondrian photos, taken from Deicher's Structures in Space [4 p92] . There is no information given on the circumstances.
An article in Studio International magazine, December 1966 (reproduced here ) describes the picture as Piet Mondrian, photographed by Cecil Stephenson in 1938 or 1939.
1872 Pieter Cornelius Mondriaan was born in Amersfoort on March 7th. He was the eldest of five children. His father was a headmaster and was fond of drawing.
Mondrian's parents
Mondrian's parents [5 p26]
1880 The family moved to Winterswijk. He began to draw and paint at an early age. He obtained instructions and lessons from his father, from his uncle: the painter Frits Mondriaan, and from the Doetichemse painter Jan Braet von Ueberfeld.Obtained elementary and intermediate drawing diplomas by private study.
The picture is from Seuphor [5] and the Musée d'Orsay exhibition catalogue lists the details [6 p28]
Carel (1880-1956), Pieter Cornelius (Piet), Johanna Christina (1870-1939), Willem Frederik (1874-1945), Louis (1877-1943).
Mondrian with sisters and brothers
Mondrian with siblings [5 p27]
1892-1897 For three years attended the painting classes held by the Rijks academie in Amsterdam under August Allebe and then attended the evening course for another two years. According to the Mondriaanhuis biography entry for 1897, Mondrian wanted to study Art in England but could not obtain entry.
1897-1904 Worked in the neighbourhood of Amsterdam, at Amstel, Gein (often together with Simon Maris) and Vecht, among other places, and also on a few occasions in Brabant for a short time.
In order to earn his livelihood, he made copies in museums: portraits and scientific drawings for Professor van Calcar in Leiden (1905-1906).
Painted landscapes particularly in the style of the Hague and Amsterdam impressionists. Admired Breitner.
Mondrian 1899
Mondrian 1899 [5 p27]
1900 Blotkamp states that as far as we know, the only time that the young Mondrian ventured abroad on his own initiative was the brief visit he made to London (probably in 1900). [7 p22]
The Catalogue notes that the summer of 1900 is the likely date of a trip to Cornwall, England, for a visit with his drawing student and a teacher of English in Amsterdam, Hannah Crabb, during which he apparently produced the painting, Rocky coast in England (A241). [8 vI p121]
Mondrian, Rocky coast in England
A241 from the Catalogue [8 vI p248]
1901 Seuphor suggests that he took a "short trip to Spain with Simon Maris". [5 p434]

And here's the evidence. Two pictures I have not seen before, from the Musée d'Orsay catalogue , attributed to the Simon Maris archives and described as [6 p86]:

Piet Mondrian and his friends, 1903. Mondrian, Maris and d'Ewoud Groeneveld before embarking for Bilbao.
Piet Mondrian in Spain, 1903. Simon Maris and Mondrian at a bullfight.
1904 Another from the Maris archive dated 1904.
Mondrian and Maris and friends on the banks of the Gein, summer 1904.
1904-05 Lived in Brabant at Uden. During this period he began for the first time consciously to seek his own less subjectively impressionistic style.
1905-08 Returned to Amsterdam. First had his studio in the St. Lucas garret in the Rembrandtplein and later lived at 272 Albert Cupstraat. Was a member of St. Lucas and exhibited with this Association until 1910. For those giving him commissions he painted occasionally in the older style. In these years his work sometimes had a symbolic thread.
Mondrian in his Rembrandtplein studio
Mondrian in his Rembrandtplein studio, 1905 [5 p29]
1907 Worked the entire summer at Oele near Hengelo in Overijssel with the painter Hulshoff Poll. In 1908 he probably stayed for a short time in Domburg. Knew and admired Jan Toorop and became friendly with Jan Sluyters. At the beginning of 1909 a big exhibition together with Corn. Spoor and Jan Sluyters in the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum. Here he exhibited Fauvistic work for the first time.
The picture right is described in Bois as Portrait of Mondrian from Lurasco's Onze moderne Meesters, 1907. Photograph by Jac. Vetter [9, p26]
Mondrian 1907
Mondrian 1907 [9, p26]
1909-10 Stayed in Domburg, where Toorop also came regularly. Gave lessons to Jacoba van Heemskerck. This stay became extremely important for his development. Seuphor notes that in January 1909 he had a 'sensational exhibition with Cornelius Spoor and Jan Slutyers at the Municipal Museum, Amsterdam.' Seuphor [5]
1910-11 Returned to Amsterdam. Lived at 42 Sarphatipark. Sought to tauten his form, went over to cubism. Was a joint founder of the Moderne Kunstkring (Modern Art Circle).
Photograph from Bois, described as, 'Mondrian in the living area of his studio before he repainted it. Sarphatipark 42. Photograph by R. Drektraan.' The book goes on to note that he painted 'the floor and wainscoting of his studio black and the walls and furniture white' [9, p27]
1911 On December 20th he went to Paris on the advice of Conrad Kikkert. Settled at 26 Rue de Départ, where Kikkert and Lod. Schelfhour also lived. He admired the cubist work of Picasso and Léger and rapidly developed further interest in that direction.
A photograph by Alfred Roth of Mondrian's studio on the top floor, 26 Rue du Départ, Paris, 1928.
from Blotkamp [7 p149]
26 Rue du Depart, Paris, 1928
26 Rue du Départ, Paris, 1928 [7 p149]
1911-16 Via cubism he progressively diverged farther away from representation in the direction of abstraction without specific subject (series: trees and facades).
Mondrian 1912, from his copying pass for the Musee du Louvre
Mondrian 1912, from his copying pass for the Musée du Louvre
1913 Represented at the Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon in Berlin and at the Salon des Independants in Paris
1914 Returned to Holland for a short visit but was compelled to stay four years owing to the outbreak of the first world war. Stayed for a short time in Domburg and for the rest of these years lived at Laren.
The picture of the studio in Laren is from the Logboek.
Mondrian's studio in Laren
The studio in Laren [11 p83]
1915 Made the acquaintance of Theo van Doesburg.
1916 Made the acquaintance of Bart van der Leck , whose experiments with flat colour were of importance for his further development.
Bart van der Leck Bart van der Leck Composition 5
1917 Drawing of Mondrian's studio by Jan Hendrick Maronier, from the Gemeentemuseum Catalogue. Maronier
1917-20 Transition to neo-plasticism.
1919 With van Doesburg and some others he was the founder of the Journal De Stijl (Style) . and published a series of articles therein.
1917-20 Returning to Paris, Mondrian lived first on the top floor of at 5 Rue du Coulmier, then settled again at his old address of 26 Rue du Départ and, in March 1936 moved to at 278 Boulevard Raspail.
5 Rue du Coulmiers, 1994
5 Rue du Coulmiers, 1994 [7 p143]
1920 Leonce Rosenberg attended to the publication of his writings Le Neo-Plasticisme , in which he set out his ideas regarding the Nieuwe Beelding (Neo Plasticism). From 1920 onwards, he permitted only horizontal and vertical lines and primary colours in his work.
Mondrian 1920
Mondrian 1920
1922 A review exhibition was organised in the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum by the Hollandse Kunstenaarskring (Dutch Circle of Artists) on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday.
1925 A difference of opinion regarding Neo-plasticism caused him to break with van Doesburg. From then on he no longer worked on De Stijl . The Weimar Bauhaus published Neue Gestaltung , a translation of his Le Neo-Plasticisme .
The photograph is from Bois, described as,
'At the Exposition des Arts Decoratifs , Paris, May 1925 (from left): Tieske Vantongerloo, Paul F. Sanders, Lucia Moholy-Nagy, Lászió Moholy-Nagy, Mondrian, Georges Vantongerloo. Photographer unknown.'
1926 Willi Baumeister in Piet Mondrian's studio, Paris 1926 (from left: Gertrud Stemmler, Willi Baumeister, Julius Herburger, Piet Mondrian, Michel Seuphor, Margarete Baumeister).
From Willi Baumeister's web site.
Mondrian 1926
Reconstruction of Mondrian's studio at Rue du Départ, from the book of that name [2] . And from the same source, this is Mondrian's card with his sketch of how to get to his flat [2, p31] .
The building was demolished in the late 1930s.
PM's card
Rue du Depart reconstruction
Rue du Départ reconstruction
[2, p49]
1926 Thanks to Miss Dreier, takes part for the first time in a big exhibition in America [5 p435]. pic?
1930 Exhibition in Paris of the Circle and Square group, of which he is one of the most important members [5 p435]. pic?
1936 Leaves Rue du Départ and takes a studio at 278 Boulevard Raspail.
The picture is from the Catalogue and described as 'Mondrian's youngest brother Carel and his wife Mary Mondriaan-Van den Berg, visiting Mondrian in his studio at 278 Boulevard Raspail, August 1936. At left, Composition en Blanc, Noir et Rouge (B269), Composition in White, Blue and Yellow (B267), and Composition en Blanc, Rouge et Bleu (B268). In front of table, Composition with Double Line and Yellow, 1932 (B237)' [8 vII p 165]
Mondrian 278 Boulevard Raspail
278 Boulevard Raspail
[8 vII p 165]
1938 The threat of a second world war made him decide to leave Paris, setting out on 21st September. He first stayed at the Ormonde Hotel, Belsize Grove, then moved to 60 Parkhill Road, NW3. Here he was in contact with the English group of artists known as Circle , which included Nicholson, Hepworth, Martin and Gabo.
I'll have to go and photograph it myself, if it is still there, in the meantime, here's a map .
Here it is, snapped on a dull October day (20th Oct 2002), together with his (traditional London) Blue Commemorative Plaque, added in 1964.

The second image shows Mondrian's GB registration document.
Mondrian 60 Parkhill Road, 2002
60 Parkhill Road, 2002 [10]
Mondrian registration document
GB registration document [12]
Thanks to the current occupants for their cooperation. Apparently, he used a studio at the rear of the ground floor. It is currently occupied by another artist and recently flooded, tragically destroying all her work.
'On the morning of 9th September 1940, two days after the blitz begins, a bomb hits the other side of Parkhill Road several houses away, breaking his windows and thus forcing him to leave. For the rest of his time in London [he] lives at the Ormonde Hotel. On 13th September writes farewell letters to Ben Nicholson, Hepworth and Winifred Nicholson. Boards ship in Liverpool on 21 September, but due to the blitz does not sail until two days later.' [9 p75]
The Ormande is now flats. I will get a snap of the building soon. Here's a map .
Mondrian blue plaque
60 Parkhill Road, 2002 [10]
1940 Here's what I have been looking for - the Catalogue notes that he 'departed from Liverpool aboard the Cunard White Star Lines ship Samaria' [8 vII p173] .

Arrived New York 3rd October.

The colour picture is rather more impressive than the b&w postcard from eBay.

[Dec 2002] According to Cunard, the "Samaria was requisitioned for trooping duties in 1939", and would not have been taking passengers to New York in 1940. I am hoping to clarify this through the Cunard Archive held at the University of Liverpool.
They replied, "I have looked at the log book for the year 1940 and have discovered that the Samaria did in fact conduct a normal passenger service at the time that Piet Mondrain [sic] was travelling. The exact dates of travelling would have been:

Departure from Liverpool: Noon on Tuesday 24th September 1940
Arrival in New York: Thursday 3rd October 1940.

According to the log book it was not requisitioned for government service until December 1940. However it did carry troops during the summer of 1940 during its normal service, and I think that this is where the confusion concerning the dates of its war service arose."

[Jan 2012] From the Haags Gemeentemuseum, Mondrian's US Identity Card.
[Aug 2014] The Tate Liverpool exhibition including a copy of PM's passenger record, but it was not reproduced in the show's catalogue.
Mondrian, Samaria
Samaria [dead link, norway heritage]
Mondrian, Samaria
Mondrian, USA ID
1940-44 Found a favourable climate for his work in New York and received a great deal of support from his friends and admirers, Harry Holtzmann, Fritz Glarner and James Johnson Sweeney.
1942 A photograph by Arnold Newman of Mondrian in his studio, 353 East 56th Street, New York, 1942.
from Blotkamp [7 p8]
Mondrian by Newman
Mondrian 1942 [7 p8]

One man show at the Dudensing Gallery in New York. (This is the first and only one-man show during his life.), Seuphor [5 p435]

The picture, Mondriaan in his New York Studio, 1943, aged seventy-one was taken by Fritz Glarner. It appears in the catalogue for the 1955 exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London.

Mondrian 1943
Mondrian 1943

Mondrian's last studio, 15 East 59th Street, New York, 1944.

from Blotkamp [7 p160]

Mondrian's Studio,1944
Mondrian's Studio, 1944 [7 p160]

This is the picture Mondrian was working on when he died, Victory Boogie Woogie. The photograph was taken in his studio after his death.

Died on February 1st 1944 in the Murray Hill Hospital from pneumonia.

Mondrian's grave at Cypress Hill Cemetery.

From Seuphor [5 p40]

The colour image is from and was taken by Dagny Haug.

Mondrian's grave
Mondrian's grave [5 p40]
Mondrian's grave

After his death commemorative exhibitions of his work were held in New York (1945), Amsterdam (1946), and Basle (1947); The Hague (1955) and Zurich (1955).

In 1945 his articles in English were published in New York under the title Plastic Art and Pure Plastic Art.

1 Whitechapel Piet Mondriaan 1872-1944,
Catalogue of a retrospective exhibition of paintings held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. London: August to September 1955
2 Rue du Départ 26, Rue du Départ, Mondrian's studio in Paris, 1921-1936,
Frans Postma (research) Cees Boekraad (editor), with contributions by Luc Veeger and Monique Suttorp, Ernst and Sohn, Berlin, 1995
3 Mondriaanhuis
[dead link]
Stichting Mondriaanhuis
(Mondriaanhuis Foundation) web site
4 Deicher Piet Mondriaan 1872-1944, Structures in Space,
Susanne Deicher, Benedikt Taschen, Köln, 1995
5 Seuphor Piet Mondrian: Life and Work,
Michel Seuphor, Harry N. Abrams Inc, New York 1995
6 Musée d'Orsay Mondrian de 1892 à 1914 Les chemins de l'abstraction,
exhibition catalogue from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 2002
7 Blotkamp Mondrian, The Art of Destruction,
Carel Blotkamp, Harry N. Abrams Inc, New York 1995
8 Welsh & Joosten Catalogue Raisonné,
Robert Welsh and Joop Joosten, Harry N. Abrams Inc, New York 1998
9 Bois Piet Mondrian: Life and Work,
Bois, Joosten, Rudenstine and Janssen, Bullfinch Press Bullfinch Press, Boston 1994
10 Blackburn That's me. email
11 Logboek Mondrian Logboek,
is an "any year diary" published in 1994 by Bookman International BV. It is written in Dutch but has some excellent photographs.
12 Tate ETC Mondrian's GB registration document was shown in the Autumn 2010 issue of the Tate's ETC magazine, attributed to Yale University Library.

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page rewritten 12th August 2009