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Making sense of abstract art
To the uninitiated it is all too easy to dismiss abstract art as the work of someone of limited talent, or to simply not 'get it'. Turner Contemporary should therefore be applauded for not only putting on an exhibition that shows you the artist's journey from the traditional to the abstract, but also offers guided tours to explain the background to the various styles of painting on display. The artist in question is 20th century Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, best known for his paintings on a white background with grids of vertical and horizontal black lines and red, yellow and blue colours.
Painting by Piet Mondrian at the Turner Contemporary, Margate
The exhibition 'Mondrian and Colour', which is free, runs until 21st September at Margate's fantastic Turner Contemporary gallery overlooking the sea, and is well worth a visit.
Mondrian's evolution as an artist is masterfully curated with a selection of his paintings spanning 50 years from 1894 to 1944. His early works, sombre depictions of rural scenes, give way to more colourful landscapes and portraits, some using pointillist technique, influenced by Geothe's Theory of Colours and the theosophists, who believed that everyone had an 'aura' or energy field that could be seen as a colour.
In his early 40s, having moved to Paris, Mondrian's paintings show the influence of the cubist movement, pioneered by Picasso, and mark a further milestone along his journey to finding his own abstract style. Back in The Netherlands during World War I, Mondrian joined an artists' colony and was greatly influenced by the artist Bart van der Leck's use of only primary colours.
A return to France in 1919, where he remained for 19 years, saw the emergence of the grid-based paintings for which he became renowned, and which he continued to develop following a move to London and then Manhattan, where he remained until his death in 1944.
The exhibition includes an illuminating 20 minute video about Mondrian, including still photos of the artist, reconstructions of his studios, interviews with people who knew him and commentary about his life.
This is a sister exhibition to Tate Liverpool's 'Mondrian and his Studios', which runs until 5th October 2014.
The Turner Contemporary is located on Margate's sea front and is a 12 minute walk from the railway station. Trains from London St.Pancras run every hour and take about one hour to reach Margate.