Composition II, an oil paint on canvas painted in 1922, is one of Piet Mondrian's well known works. The piece is typical of the abstract style of art Mondrian is remembered for, and is deeply symbolic of his deep held philosophies about the world. The picture is currently on display at the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum in New York.
After the end of the First World War, Mondrian moved back to Paris from the Netherlands for the second time. Many scholars regard this peacetime period as one of the best for Parisian culture, and it was at this time that Mondrian began to really take hold of his newfound abstract style.
Composition II, painted as part of a series in 1922, is a representation of Mondrian's term 'neoplasticism'. He believed that the universe is deeply and fundamentally harmonic, and connected. Different individual things naturally come together to form greater, larger structures. The minimalist, and simplistic approach Mondrian takes is therefore deeply symbolic.
In Composition II Mondrian uses combinations of geometric quadrilateral shapes, block fills of primary colours and thick dark lines to clearly distinguish one shape from the next. This is a symbol. The dark lines illustrate how Mondrian's painting is clearly composed of many different part, which combine to form one painting and reality. The use of block colour represents the foundational nature of the piece.
In the same way the universe is built from basic parts, all colours are built from the three, fundamental primary colours. The use of geometric shapes demonstrates how precisely and naturally the objects of the painting appear to combine together and form something greater than the sum of their parts. The use of white throughout is a showing of how simple and clean the most fundamental parts of reality are.
Composition II is comparable to a plethora of Mondrian's works around this time, an era in which he found his footing in a new, unprecedented abstract style which formed the centrepiece of his legacy.
Tom Gurney in an art history expert. He received a BSc (Hons) degree from Salford University, UK, and has also studied famous artists and art movements for over 20 years. Tom has also published a number of books related to art history and continues to contribute to a number of different art websites. You can read more on Tom Gurney here.