PRINT October 1995

Mondrians I Have Known

CIRCA 1946: As an arty Manhattan teenager, I thumbtacked onto my bedroom walls a row of color reproductions from the Museum of Modern Art, a precocious declaration of Modernity. I placed Piet Mondrian’s Composition in White, Black, and Red (1936) next to Jean Arp’s wriggly but equally distilled Mountain, Table, Anchors, Navel (1924), in what turned out to be a preview of many slide comparisons in my future (geometric versus biomorphic, etc.). The perpendicular clarity and antiseptic surfaces of the Mondrian clicked partly into place with my Machine Age dreams of a utopian future, but its austerity also made it look more religious than worldly, a Holy Grail floating far above the pleasures of Picasso, Matisse, and Miró.

1949: The welling mysteries of Mondrian’s fierce but bone-dry power were partly explained to me, it seemed, by Clement Greenberg’s influential essay, “The Role of Nature in

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the October 1995 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.