Piet Mondrian has a different relationship with Tree.

Pictures such as The Red Tree reflect something in the life of the tree; the way it has grown, evolved, lived. As in the Trees of Georgia O’Keeffe, it holds a strong symbolic and romantic sentiment. Bent, gnarled and humbled, it seems to express a sadness about the heaviness of the realistic/material world that can be seen and felt.

It is only with a bright color scheme of blue, red and yellow, that Mondrian transcends and can escape the tragedy.

Avond (Evening); Red Tree,1908
Oil on canvas
70 x 99 cm (27 1/2 x 39 in)
Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

Here is a wonderful and profound key to understanding Mondrian’s development, in a quote from 1920 (continuing between images):

Intense involvement with living things is involvement with death. If you follow nature, you have to accept ‘whatever is capricious and twisted in nature’. If the capricious is beautiful, it is also tragic: ‘If you follow nature you will not be able to vanquish the tragic to any real degree in your art.

Gray Tree, 1911

It is certainly true that naturalistic painting makes us feel a harmony which is beyond the tragic, but it does not express this in a clear and definite way, since it is not confined to expressing relations of equilibrium.

Flowering Apple Tree, 1912

Let us recognise the fact once and for all: the natural appearance, natural form, natural colour, natural rhythm, natural relations most often express the tragic . . .

Composition, 1913

We must free ourselves from our attachment to the external, for only then do we transcend the tragic, and are enabled consciously to contemplate the repose which is within all things.

Composition with Gray and Light Brown, 1918

To approach the spiritual in art, one will make as little use as possible of reality, because reality is opposed to the spiritual.

Piet Mondrian


5 thoughts on “Tree and Mondrian

  1. Wonderful post! I love that in The Red Tree painting, the tree is illuminated at its roots, at the point where it is connected with the earth, where the earth and air meet. To me, there is a hopefulness about this, even as the branches grow darker as they move farther and farther away from this source.


  2. That final quote by Piet Mondrian reminds me of the Buddhist aphorism; “Before enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water”. Surely spirituality is rooted in reality and beauty returns to the earth? I love your posts, and thankyou for stopping by my blog. Tony


  3. Pingback: Inspiration Nesting in the Branches - ALISHA LEE JEFFERS: Fine Art

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