A pattern of vertical and horizontal black lines.
Straight-sided geometric shapes.
Simple enough composition, yet in the early 20th century, when Piet Mondrian – one of the founders of the Dutch De Stijl movement – applied his aesthetic of total abstraction as a model for harmony and order into his paintings, it shook up a Western world just emerging from the thicket of Art Nouveau. It signified a radical shift towards abstraction and rationalism. Mondrian’s compositions would be crucial in the development of Modernism throughout the century. His work to this day permeates our culture, its influence appearing in decor, cakes, Katy Perry, Nike, the White Stripes, Yves Saint Laurent, and even in the meticulously designed coasters of a certain design firm.
Explore his life and work at this superbly designed digital archive.