November 23, 2014

Mondrian kept an artificial flower, painted white, in his studio to express the feeling of "the lack of a woman in his daily life."

According to the card stuck to the wall in a London museum next to a 1926 photograph by André Kertész, which you can see here. The white paint — we were told by some curator — was "to banish entirely any recollection of the green he found so intolerable."

I copied those words down in my notebook in 2002 — the last time I was in London — along with a sort of diagram of the composition of the photograph:

Drawing from a photo of Mondrian's studio

That scan comes from a notebook I found, a notebook that — back in 2013 — I had talked about losing:
I have a notebook of drawings/writings done at a big Paul Klee show, done in London in about 2003, just before starting this blog. I'd like to copy the pages and blog it. I was analyzing/riffing on the... ideas that he used.

Wonder where I put that.
Back then, betamax3000 had said: "NOW you are teasing me. I want that post." Okay, I will get around to that. I have 9 pages of notes, which, if I remember correctly from 12 years ago, were intended to be the code-broken instructions for how to draw/paint like Paul Klee. But for now, you'll have to consider the womanlessness of Piet Mondrian.



Expressed by Yves Saint Laurent:

29 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

I'd said "in about 2003," but I was able to pinpoint the year as 2002, because there's a page in the notebook where I wrote "Milton Berle and Billy Wilder just died."

chickelit said...

Althouse & Meade:

Hanging on the wall to my right is a small signed sketch of a Mondrian "signed" with a Nike swoosh. The piece is called "Art With A Sponsor (II)."

You met the artist -- that time at the Union Terrace.

Laslo Spatula said...

"to banish entirely any recollection of the green he found so intolerable."

Never made that connection before. Looking at his various paintings I now notice the overwhelming lack of green.

I also don't see any vaginas.

Ann Althouse said...

"I also don't see any vaginas."

Vaginas are green. He feared fecundity.

He had to flee from it!

Laslo Spatula said...

I I would fear a green vagina unless it was part of a hot green alien chick like that one William Shatner got busy with on Star Trek.

furious_a said...

Expressed by Look Cycling.

Saint Croix said...

Passion! Passion! Walled off from woman, but the passion remains!

Saint Croix said...

I don't think Yves gets it.

Saint Croix said...

I got a shirtstorm insight this morning, and this might be a good place for it.

More shirtstorm! Are you ready?

It's about lust. Lust on the shirt, lust in the minds of men, lust for women and lust that keeps us from seeing them as human beings, as rocket scientists.

Lust, lust, lust, lust, lust, lust! Put up a wall, we need a wall for that damn male lust. Maybe the Great Wall of China is a lust wall, keeping those damn Mongols off our women.

The problem with feminism is that it can be a religion, a very bad religion. A religion that rails about lust the way a Marxist might rail about greed. And lust and greed are sins. The good religions will tell you that. But what the good religions will also tell you is that we are all sinners, filled with selfishness. And we need to tolerate the spiritual sins of other people, as we think about our own spirits, and our own sins.

rhhardin said...

My front hall since 1976 disagrees pic.

rhhardin said...

Dog Mondrian.

Ann Althouse said...

"Lust, lust, lust, lust, lust, lust! Put up a wall, we need a wall for that damn male lust. Maybe the Great Wall of China is a lust wall, keeping those damn Mongols off our women."

Lust, and don't forget thrust. We're talking about a rocket man... burning out his "fuse" up here alone.

Emil Blatz said...

OK, so his daily life was a bit slow. The way I heard it, his nightly life more than made up for it. The man was a pussy hound. At least the way I heard it.

Shane said...

Didn't realize Split Enz had a muse for the "True Colours" album art.

Cheryl said...

I didn't know that about Mondrian. It makes the YSL dress much more interesting. I always loved it before. I think I still do, but what was Yves doing with such a direct riff on Mondrian's art?

Laslo Spatula said...

I like Althouse's sketch. I bet the stairway in the back leads to the Escher display.

Saint Croix said...

Lust, and don't forget thrust. We're talking about a rocket man... burning out his "fuse" up here alone.

Althouse you just made science phallic!

This movie is hilarious if you look for phallic symbols while watching it.

Saint Croix said...

Bull Durham is a great movie about teaching a man to thrust properly.

Too fast! Too hard! All over the place!

John Lawton said...

Laslo, the Orion slave girl was tempting Captain Pike, not Kirk, and it was all an illusion! C'mon! Pike's illusion! Get with the theme of the day, man!

chickelit said...

As the last photo shows, that dress only works on rectilinear figures.

Richard Dolan said...

I have a signed print of Chez Mondrian in my library. So strange seeing it here, and even stranger seeing the use to which it is being put. I've always been more interested in the hat than the flower pot.

Anonymous said...

I am a color-blind, left-handed, engineer from flyover country. But I have been reading the news and trying to stay current with culture since about 1965. Piet Mondrian had escaped my notice. I just read his Wikipedia entry. I see that arranging and rearranging colored squares on his studio wall was one project that took a great deal of his time and attention. His squares have toured as "Wall Works."

Remember when a man proactively shot some teenagers on the subway and then got a big book advance? Newspapers were printed on paper then. I remember a graduate student from China reading that news in the same big room where I had a desk. He lowered the paper and said to me, "There are many ways to make money in this country." Piet Mondrian found his!

Anonymous said...

I did more reading about Mondrian. One person said he was married only once, and his marriage lasted three weeks. There may be a reason for the lack of a woman in his life.

Ann Althouse said...

"I've always been more interested in the hat than the flower pot."

Paging Dr. Freud.

From "The Interpretation of Dreams":

-----------------------------------

1. The hat as the symbol of a man (of the male genitals):[11] (A fragment from the dream of a young woman who suffered from agoraphobia as the result of her fear of temptation.)

'I am walking in the street in summer; I am wearing a straw hat of peculiar shape, the middle piece of which is bent upwards, while the side pieces hang downwards (here the description hesitates), and in such a fashion that one hangs lower than the other. I am cheerful and in a confident mood, and as I pass a number of young officers I think to myself: You can't do anything to me.'

As she could produce no associations to the hat, I said to her: 'The hat is really a male genital organ, with its raised middle piece and the two downward-hanging side pieces.' It is perhaps peculiar that her hat should be supposed to be a man, but after all one says: Unter die Haube kommen (to get under the cap) when we mean: to get married. I intentionally refrained from interpreting the details concerning the unequal dependence of the two side pieces, although the determination of just such details must point the way to the interpretation. I went on to say that if, therefore, she had a husband with such splendid genitals she would not have to fear the officers; that is, she would have nothing to wish from them, for it was essentially her temptation-fantasies which prevented her from going about unprotected and unaccompanied. This last explanation of her anxiety I had already been able to give her repeatedly on the basis of other material.

It is quite remarkable how the dreamer behaved after this interpretation. She withdrew her description of the hat, and would not admit that she had said that the two side pieces were hanging down. I was, however, too sure of what I had heard to allow myself to be misled, and so I insisted that she did say it. She was quiet for a while, and then found the courage to ask why it was that one of her husband's testicles was lower than the other, and whether it was the same with all men. With this the peculiar detail of the hat was explained, and the whole interpretation was accepted by her.

The hat symbol was familiar to me long before the patient related this dream. From other but less transparent cases I believed that I might assume the hat could also stand for the female genitals.[12]

Ann Althouse said...

"I did more reading about Mondrian. One person said he was married only once, and his marriage lasted three weeks. There may be a reason for the lack of a woman in his life."

Something about his hat, probably.

Joe Schmoe said...

I am only familiar with Mondrian through the De Stijl movement, which also included poets and architects such as Gerrit Rietveld.

I believe Mondrian left the movement over a squabble about the promotion of diagonal lines over the vertical and horizontal. So yeah, maybe he was difficult to live with.

April Apple said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about Mondrian today. He should be known as a hero to color-blind engineers. He has eliminated any possibility of guessing "green" as the answer to the question "Well, what color do you see?" I do really well with kindergarten red, yellow, and blue. And if his black and whites are really just black and white and not some sneaky very dark brown or very light pink, he will really be my hero. I would get a print to put in my front hallway but my front door opens into the dining room. Oh, well. Maybe he designs shirts.

mikee said...

While a college student in the late 1970's I found a short sleeved shirt at a Goodwill for $1. The shirt was a Mondrian pattern done in fluorescent colors.

I used to wear it with my tight, bright yellow tennis shorts and red-soled Asic Tiger running shoes (ahhh, the 1970s!) on warm days.

There exists a picture of me thus dressed, including also my very wavy, over the ears with a ducktail 70's hair, which I have kept hidden from my wife and children for 28 years now. They may find it upon my death, but only if the really, really go through all my old stuff. I hope if they do find it they realize they were that young and silly once, too.