Mondrian's Friends,

colleagues and acquaintances

Reading the various Mondrian biographies available, it is clear that Mondrian was influenced at key points during his life by friends in the art world. Two of particular note are Theo van Doesburg and Bart van der Leck, both of whom he met during WWI while staying at the Laren artists colony in the Netherlands. Although he later fell out with and disassociated himself from both, they were instrumental in the development of Mondrian's work. The purpose of this page is to list those key individuals, with some information on their lives and works, and where the information is sufficient, devote a page to them.

I have divided Mondrian's life into six periods, based on where he was living:

Holland - Paris I - Holland & De Stijl - Paris II - London - New York

For each of those periods there is a page giving details of the individuals identified. The individuals are listed below and then within the narrative.

August Allebé
Hans and Sophie Arp
Max Bill
George Hendrik Breitner
André Breton
Burgoyne Diller
Theo van Doesburg
Marcel Duchamp
Max Ernst
Naum Gabo
Fritz Glarner
Jean Gorin
Barbara Hepworth
Robert van't Hoff
Harry Holtzman
Vilmos Huszar
Conrad Kikkert
Bart van der Leck Fernand Leger
Felix del Marle
Simon Maris
Frits Mondriaan
Marlow Moss
Ben Nicholson
Winifred Nicholson
Amédée Ozenfant
Hulshoff Poll
Gerrit Rietveld
Lodewijk Schelfhout
Jan Sluyters
Cornelius Spoor
Jan Toorop
Jan Braet von Ueberfeld
Georges Vantongerloo
Charmion von Wiegand
Jan Wils

The Early Years
Mondrian 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. For three years attended the painting classes held by the Rijks academie in Amsterdam under August Allebé. At the turn of the century he 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. He painted landscapes particularly in the style of the Hague and Amsterdam impressionists and admired Breitner. In 1907, Mondrian 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. He knew and admired Jan Toorop and became friendly with Jan Sluyters. At the beginning of 1909 he exhibited together with Cornelius Spoor and Jan Sluyters at the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum.

Paris 1911 - 1914
On December 20th 1911 Mondrian went to Paris on the advice of Conrad Kikkert. Settled at 26 Rue de D�part, where Kikkert and Lodewijk Schelfhout also lived. He admired the cubist work of Picasso and Fernand Leger and rapidly developed further interest in that direction.

Holland 1914 - 1919 and De Stijl
In 1914 Mondrian Returned to Holland for a short visit but was compelled to stay four years owing to the outbreak of the first world war. In 1915 he met Theo van Doesburg and in 1916 Bart van der Leck, both of whom were involved, with Mondrian in founding the De Stijl journal, which became a movement. Other De Stijl contributors included J.J.P.Oud, Jan Wils, Robert van't Hoff, Vilmos Huszar, Georges Vantongerloo and Gerrit Rietveld.

Paris 1919 - 1938
More details to follow, but for now we have Marlow Moss, who influenced the Double Line paintings, Amédée Ozenfant, Max Bill, and Jean Gorin, of whom Blotkamp says, 'Mondrian viewed Gorin as his most important follower'. (Blotkamp p 215)

London 1938 - 1940
In London he was welcomed by several artist friends, notably Winifred Nicholson, Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth, who also provided material assistance. Mondrian had in the past taken part in exhibitions organised by their group ... [ thus] ... he was taken up by a group of artists who were familiar with his work and ideas, and sympathised with them, a group which also included Naum Gabo. (Blotkamp p 224). The December 1966 edition of Studio International magazine contains an article on Mondrian's time in London, largely comprising reminiscences by those named. I have reproduced the article here.

New York 1940 - 1944
Harry Holtzman offered to pay his passage and act as his guarantor [and] Mondrian was quick to accept. On 1st October [1940] he arrived by ship in New York. It was here, at two different addresses, that he spend the last years of his life, years that proved extraordinarily active and prolific. He painted and wrote, devoted a great deal of time to decorating his studio, and even had time for quite an active social life, at any rate in comparison with his years in Paris. He moved in circles associated with the American Abstract Artists, where he was much admired and attracted a number of followers, such as Burgoyne Diller, Fritz Glarner and Charmion von Wiegand. He was also a part of that group of prominent exiles from the Paris avant-guard, the core of which was formed by Peggy Guggenheim with her gallery Art of this Century, André Breton, Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst. (Blotkamp p 225)

Back to the biography - old page

Original page 2001, rewritten October 2010