new-york

Piet Mondrian

Noah Goldowsky Gallery

There have been two worthwhile fin de siècle shows. At Noah Goldowsky it was a group of early works by Piet Mondrian. Some of them were shown in New York many years ago by Allan Frumkin and Sidney Janis, and to me they do not seem to have worn well. I mean physically: the colors seem altered and more dead and the surfaces more cracked. This is important, because their sensuousness is an integral part of the content of these canvases, as it is a strong element in Mondrian generally, and not just in his early work—the whites of his abstractions are increasingly richly brushed. It is not necessary (and beyond a point it is not possible) to take Mondrian as an “optical” painter, but to the extent that his work is addressed to the retina the sensory qualities of it must be important, and Mondrian’s ideas about what he was doing and why involved sensuousness at least as much as sensation. Let

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