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22/12/2021 | ARTS

SPACE (FOR) MONDRIAN. AT THE MUDEC.

Posted by: Silvia Zanni

A must-see is a visit to the Piet Mondrian. Dalla figurazione all’astrazione exhibition at the Mudec in Via Tortona 56 just a stone’s throw away from Superstudio Più. This exhibition is not only a rare opportunity to see the artists' body of work – there are only five artworks by Mondrian in Italian art collections and the majority of those on display are from the Aja Kunstmuseum Den Haag – but also the setup itself is highly original, with "Mondrian space" taking shape within the museum. The format of the exhibition will be open with the last room dedicated to the cross-pollination between fashion and design.

'Mondrianism' infiltrates the environment, the captions are arranged according to the pictorial modules of the artist, and the graphic fonts turn the corner of the squares typical of Mondrian's style. Visitors can follow the evolution of the Dutch painter's style, but the experience feels more like a revelation than an evolution: the geometry of his last canvases appears in the first representations of polders, the flat plains around Amsterdam, and in the first colourful portraits, which were deemed too bright for their time. From Impressionism to Cubism, Mondrian experimented with a multitude of styles. But ultimately, Mondrian's art is driven by one idea, that is how to achieve harmony and order through the arts.
The second part of the exhibition is more dynamic: in a dark room a projector shows black and white squares dancing on the bodyless notes of the Ondes Martenot, one of the first synthesizers of the era before electronic music. In a flash, the screen fills with colours: red, blue, yellow, black bounce frantically to the rhythm of jazz. Jazz is the American fever of the 30s, the free rhythm that Mondrian believes is the base of his artistic theory and which still captivates the viewer in the XXI century, who taps their foot in front of the installation. The lines of the painting break, expand beyond the surface, spreading in still unknown areas: art now goes hand in hand with design as the objects in the last room prove, including the Elling sideboard by Gerrit Rietveld. 
Furthermore, mondrianism influenced graphics, fashion, and even architecture – Carlo Scarpa curated the first Italian exhibition on Mondrian at the Rome GAM in 1956. "Mondrian effect" also affects the decor. In the iconic Red and Blue chair, the elements (the seat, the backrest, the armrests) are emptied of mass or volume, and arranged in the free space of an "absolute geometry". Kuramata-Cappelini's Homage to Mondrian is a must-see. Yves Saint Laurent's 1965 Mondrian collection culminates the exhibition with a look at fashion.

Piet Mondrian, Little House in Sunlight, 1909. Against a blue wall
Piet Mondrian, Composition with red, yellow and blue, 1921 and Composition II, 1929
Shiro Kuramata, Homage to Mondrian-Cappellini
Mondrian Collection 1965 by Yves Saint Laurent

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