Thursday, June 2, 2011

Piet Mondrian "Broadway Boogie-Woogie" (1942-3)

This week I have chosen Mondrian's "Broadway Boogie-Woogie" for the blog. It indicates a departure from his usual pieces, swapping the iconic thick black lines and grids for beads of vibrant and bright colour.

The picture depicts the streets of New York City, the hectic grid system and the rush of colours. Mondrian painted this shortly after arriving in the USA and this image manages to capture ones first impression of the city, as by European standards its pace and speed and scale (reflected in the canvas size of 50in X 50in) is incomprehensible. However, the image does not necessary only depict the aesthetics of the city. Mondrian was fascinated by jazz and in particular Boogie Woogie, and utilised this in his work.

The small pulses of colour on the canvas reflect musical rhythm and its improvisational nature. Mondrian himself said of the work that, it was the "destruction of natural appearance; and construction through continuous opposition of pure means - dynamic rhythm" (MOMA NY). The formal image of New York has now been deconstructed and reconstituted as an embodiment of sound and movement and how that in turn relates back to the urban surroundings.

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