Piet Mondrian would travel to Westkapelle several times in order to capture different elements of its unique environment. One item that particularly interested him was a lighthouse which re-appears several times within his work.
For Lighthouse at Westkapelle in Pink, 1909 Monrian chooses to work with loose brushstrokes and relatively little detail. He includes a small pathway around the foot of the building and a sky scene behind, but other than that the painting is relatively devoid of much to see. He instead allows the lighthouse to dominate in tones of pink, with some blue mixed in for the central part of the facade. Several white clouds float by but the sky is a fairly consistent blue in the main. He also adds some subtle dabs of darker blue in parts of it, just around the sides of the building. Of the four paintings that he produced of the lighthouse in Westkapelle, this is perhaps the simplest although they were all similar to each other and only varied in small, subtle ways. He liked to use much the same angle too, and from the land looking upwards this would always give the impression of the lighthouse being dominant and impressive in size.
This piece was created in 1909, with Mondrian returning in the following years to create more paintings of this structure as well as the surrounding landscape which would inspire other artworks. He was an expressive artist at this time, working from emotion and not being too concerned with precise detail. The entire atmosphere of this remote region would influence his painting style whilst there and his love for this area was underlined by how he returned several times. Mondrian loved his native Netherlands and would produce many landscape artworks prior to his move to France, after which point he would slowly sink deeper into the world of abstract art and eventually lose all connection to reality within his paintings. Work such as that featured here ensures his reputation remains strongest within his native country, even though the international audience knows him best for his later abstract art.
Zeeland is a province of the Netherlands which offers a more remote way of life and it was here that Mondrian headed in order to find somewhere relaxing to work. He could refresh his mind completely whilst here and get away from some of the portraiture which he was continually asked to produce in order to pay his bills. In and around the city of Westkapelle he could find unique elements, many of which still remain there today. In fact there are three lighthouses there currently, with two still in use. There was a calmness to the atmosphere which contrasted to where he had been before, and then where he would later live once he relocated to Paris a few years later.
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.