- Piet Mondrian
- Composition in Black and White, with Double Lines
Signed with the initials PM and dated 34 (bottom center); signed Piet Mondrian on the stretcher
- Oil on canvas
- 23 3/8 by 23 3/4 in.
- 59.3 by 60.3 cm (excluding the original frame)
Eugene J. Lux, Paris & New York (acquired from the artist and thence by descent)
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Geometric Abstraction: 1926-1942, 1972, no. 37, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Composition with Black Lines)
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas Collects: Impressionist and Early Modern Masters, 1978, no. 72, illustrated in the catalogue (as dating from circa 1933 and titled Composition with Black Lines)
Dallas Museum of Art, Impressionist and Modern Masters in Dallas: Monet to Mondrian, 1989, no. 61, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Dallas Museum of Art (on loan from 1967 to 2009)
"Mondrian 1933," Abstraction-Création Art Non-figuratif, no. 3, Paris, 1934, illustrated p. 32
"Mondrian - 1934 - Pintura," D'Aci i d'Allà, vol. 22, no. 179, Barcelona, December 1934, illustrated
Anatole Jakovski, "Inscriptions under Pictures," Axis, no. I, January 1935, illustrated p. 15
Willem Josiah de Gruyter, Wezen en ontwikkeling der Europeesche schilderkunst, Amsterdam, 1935, no. 27, illustrated
Mondriaan (exhibition catalogue), Amsterdam, 1946, illustrated (as dating from 1937)
Michel Seuphor, Piet Mondrian. Life and Work, New York, 1956, no. 532, listed p. 429 (titled Composition with Black Lines); no. 374, illustrated p. 389 (titled Black Lines on White Ground and as dating from circa 1933)
L.J.F. Wijsenbeek & J.J.P. Oud, Mondriaan, Antwerp, 1962, no. 76, illustrated p. 51 (as dating from 1933)
Alfred Roth, Begegnungen mit Pionieren. Le Corbusier. Piet Mondrian. Adolf Loos. Josef Hoffmann. August Perret. Henry van de Velde, Basel and Stuttgart, 1973, no. 40, illustrated p. 168 (as dating from 1932)
Maria Grazia Ottolenghi, L'Opera Completa di Mondrian, Milan, 1974, no. 414 (titled Composizione con linee nere and as dating from circa 1933)
Yve-Alain Bois, "Lettres à Jean Gorin: Mondrian, Vantongerloo, Torres-Garcia, Bill, etc...," Macula, no. 2, 1977, illustrated p. 131 (as dating from circa 1933)
Robert Welsh, "Mondrian as Draftsman," Mondrian. Zeichnungen (exhibition catalogue), Stuttgart, 1980, pp. 54-55
Robert Welsh, "Mondrian Dessinateur, " L'Atelier de Mondrian, 1982, p. 24
Renate Rüdiger, Der Begriff des Gegenstandes bei Piet Mondrian, Ph.D. dissertation, Berlin, 1983, no. 79, illustrated (as dating from 1933)
Marianne Le Pommeré, L'Oeuvre de Jean Gorin, Zürich, 1985, pp. 499-500
Joop M. Joosten, Piet Mondrian, Catalogue Raisonné of the Work of 1911-1944, New York, 1998, no. B243, illustrated p. 370
Composition in Black and White, with Double Lines epitomizes the modern elegance for which Mondrian is renowned. The artist created this highly sophisticated composition in 1934, a few months after having completed a nearly identical work the previous October (B242). In that earlier composition, which was eventually destroyed during World War II, the innermost square is colored yellow. The present canvas puts forth a more daring, minimalist version of the eight intersecting lines, allowing the gleaming white background to exist in its purest form.
Sleek and highly structured, this composition of lines and planar fields of white embodies the tenents of Neo-Plasticism, the highly intellectual and avant-garde artistic movement which Piet Mondrian championed in the 1920s and 1930s. The genesis of this movement can be traced to Mondrian's return from Holland to his studio in Paris in 1919. While the outlines of Neo-Plasticism had been articulated earlier in 1917 with the publication of De Stijl, an aesthetic manifesto created in collaboration with Theo van Doesburg, it was in his austere Parisian studio that Mondrian painted his first Neo-Plastic compositions using a completely abstract, geometric pictorial language. This return to an urban environment marked the beginning of a period of intense activity devoted to developing the style that would dominate his work. "In the metropolis, beauty expresses itself more mathematically," he had written prior to his return to the French capital. "Therefore it is the place out of which the mathematically artistic temperament of the future must develop, the place out of which the New Style must emerge" (P. Mondrian, De Stijl, I, 132).
From 1920 onwards, Mondrian confined his pictorial lexicon to planes of pure primary color, planes of non-color and black lines. Over the next two decades the artist sought to refine this new vocabulary to the highest degree of balance and economy. Mondrian created several series of similar works, but each new composition features minor variations; the precise shades of the primary colors, the thickness of the black lines, and the size and shape of the geometrical grids that delineate his compositions. Each work is a unique attempt to express a principle of equilibrium born out of opposing elements that was the essence of Neo-Plasticism.
Despite being at the vanguard of modernism, Mondrian's Dutch background and Puritan upbringing were formulative influences on his ideas and work. Brought up in a strict Calvinist household, Mondrian's aversion to the attractions of sensory perception, attachment to strict discipline and technique and wish to depict a universal reality beneath the phenomenal world are all rooted in the Dutch Calvinist tradition. A religious impulse was at the core of his art and provided the foundation for the utopian direction of his social theory. As he comments in De Stijl, "Art, although an end in itself, is, like religion, a means by which the universal may be revealed, that is to say, plastically contemplated" (P. Mondrian, De Stijl, vol. I, p. 52). It is this concern with revealing the universal principles beneath surface reality that links him to the Dutch tradition of Vermeer, Heda and van der Heyden, artists whose work is united by a serene sense of compositional balance and spatial order.
Mondrian painted this work around the time that the Hungarian-born engineer, artist and inventor Eugene Lux (1900-1985) visited him in his studio in Paris in May 1934. The photographs that Lux took on this occasion show Mondrian's canvases in various degrees of completion around the studio. It is believed that Lux made suggestions to Mondrian about particular elements of this composition while the work was in progress. Upon its completion, Lux received this picture from Mondrian as a gift and took it back with him to his home in the United States. Lux kept this picture in the Coral Gables home he shared with his wife Gizella (1923-2008), and in 1967 the couple loaned it to the Dallas Museum of Art, where it has hung on exhibition until now.