Mas­ter of the ab­stract be­comes very real in­flu­ence on de­sign

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - Robin and Pa­tri­cia Sil­ver

IN 1938, the Dutch painter, Piet Mon­drian, fled from main­land Europe fear­ing the rise and spread of Nazism and set­tled in London. By 1940, as the Blitz raged, his friends Bar­bara Hep­worth and Ben Ni­chol­son urged him to move with them to Corn­wall. He felt this was too close to oc­cu­pied France for com­fort so he “upped sticks” again and moved to New York. Had Bar­bara Hep­worth de­cided to move to her na­tive West Rid­ing, Mon­drian may have agreed to fol­low and Wake­field could now be the per­ma­nent home of his paint­ings.

Over many years, his style changed from nat­u­ral­is­tic land­scapes, to a more Cu­bist in­flu­enced pe­riod. Af­ter the First World War, he be­gan to de­velop his more “neo­plas­tic” pared down pic­tures of blocks of pri­mary colours di­vided by ver­ti­cal and hor­i­zon­tal black lines for which he is now best known

Art his­to­ri­ans may ex­plain this style as rep­re­sent­ing utopian ideals of spir­i­tual har­mony, but for Mon­drian the sole pur­pose of art was the cre­ation of beauty. His in­gre­di­ents are form, line and colour and his pic­tures are pure ab­strac­tions, re­duc­ing land­scapes to these ba­sic el­e­ments.

Be­cause they are so bold, it is not sur­pris­ing that de­sign­ers con­stantly “bor­row” his vis­ual con­cepts. Back in 1965, Yves Saint Lau­rent launched the “Mon­drian Dress”. This sim­ple shift was ideal for the strong colour blocks and any shap­ing could be clev­erly hid­den in the ver­ti­cal grid lines. In the world of cos­met­ics, L’oreal unashamedly uses Mon­drian’s sig­na­ture works for its “Stu­dio Line” col­lec­tion.

In the home, Mon­drian’s in­flu­ence can be found in just about ev­ery room. Ceramic tiles are a nat­u­ral back­drop for bold squares of colour sep­a­rated by lines of black grout­ing. The images di­vided on a tele­vi­sion’s split screen look like a movie ver­sion of a Mon­drian paint­ing. Even a per­pet­ual cal­en­dar can be read­ily Mon­dri­anised.

The colour choice and grid like con­struc­tion of Ru­bik’s cube must surely be the most Mon­drian-in­spired puz­zle ever cre­ated. The straight ver­ti­cal lines and square or rect­an­gu­lar pan­els of colour ap­peal to our sense of or­der and the bright, pri­mary colours stand out crisply and cheer­fully. Hence his last­ing ap­peal and rel­e­vance.

Iron­i­cally, Mon­drian’s own at­tempts at de­sign both for stage sets and the in­te­rior of his own apart­ment, were not suc­cess­ful and never widely adopted.

How­ever, the con­tin­u­ing in­flu­ence of his paint­ings on de­sign­ers al­most a cen­tury later is clearly pro­found.

Once again, this is clearly a case of the artist lead­ing and the de­sign­ers fol­low­ing be­hind.

A per­pet­ual cal­en­dar and dress in­spired by Mon­drian.

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