About This Artwork

Piet Mondrian
Dutch, 1872–1944

Lozenge Composition with Yellow, Black, Blue, Red, and Gray, 1921

Oil on canvas
23 5/8 x 23 5/8 in. (60 x 60 cm)
Signed, l.c.: "PM/21"

Gift of Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., 1957.307

Although Piet Mondrian’s abstractions may seem far removed from nature, his basic vision was rooted in landscape, especially the flat geography of his native Holland. Beginning with his earliest naturalistic landscapes, he reduced natural forms to their simplest linear and colored equivalents in order to suggest their unity and order. Eventually he eliminated such forms altogether, developing a pure visual language of verticals, horizontals, and primary colors that he believed expressed universal forces.

In Lozenge Composition with Yellow, Black, Blue, Red, and Gray, Mondrian rotated a square canvas to create a dynamic relationship between the rectilinear composition and the diagonal lines of the edges of the canvas. Deceptively simple, his works are the result of constant adjustment to achieve absolute balance and harmony, and they reveal an exacting attention to the subtle relations between lines, shapes, and colors. The artist hoped that his paintings would point the way to a utopian future. This goal was first formulated in Holland around 1916–17 by Mondrian and a small group of like-minded artists and architects who collectively referred to their aesthetic as De Stijl (The Style). Their ideas have been extraordinarily influential for all aspects of modern design, from architecture and fashion to household objects.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 20013, p. 262.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Hartford, Wadsworth Atheneum, Abstract Art: Gabo Pevsner Mondrian Domela, 1935.

Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Piet Mondrian, November-December 1946, no. 110; traveled to Basel, Kunsthalle, February 6-March 2, 1947, no. 13.

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Selections from Five New York Private Collections, Summer 1951.

New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Piet Mondrian, February 5-March 17, 1951, no. 21.

Chicago, Art Institute, Mondrian: The Process Works, October 3-November 8, 1970, no. 5.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Mondrian: The Diamond Compositions, July 1-September 16, 1979, no.5.

Haags, Gemeentemuseum, Piet Mondrian, December 18, 1994-April 30, 1995; traveled to Washington, National Gallery of Art, June 11-September 4, 1995, and New York, Museum of Modern Art, October 1, 1995-January 23, 1996, cat. no. 95 (ill.).

Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, A Transatlantic Avant-Garde: American Artists in Paris, 1918–1939, April 17–June 27, 2004.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Henri Cartier-Bresson and the Art and Photography of Paris, September 20, 2008–January 4, 2009.

Paris, Centre Pompidou, Musée National d'art moderne, Mondrian, December 1, 2010–March 21, 2011, p. 223.

Art Institute of Chicago, Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test, October 29, 2017–January 15, 2018, cat. 540.

Publication History

Henry McBride, “Rockefeller, Whitney, Senior, Odets, Colin,” Art News 50 (June/August 1951), P. 34 ff. (ill.).

Michel Seuphor, Piet Mondrian: Life and Work (New York, 1956), p. 392, no. 400.

Ottavio Morisani, L’Abstrattismo die Piet Mondrian (Venice, 1956), no. 66.

The Art Institute, Paintings of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, 1961), pp. 317, 342 (ill.).
Carlo L. Ragghianti, Mondrian e l’arte del XX secolo (Milan, 1962), p. 334, no. 568.

El Mundo de Los Museos, Instituto de Arte de Chicago (Madrid, 1967), p. 79 (ill.).

L’Opera completa di Mondrian, Classici dell’Arte 77 (Milan, 1974), p. 108, no. 336.

A. James Speyer and Courtnry Graham Donnell, Twentieth-Century European Paintings (Chicago, 1980), p. 58, no. 3A6.

John Milner, Piet Mondrian (London, 1992), pp. 164-165 (ill.).

Carel Blotkamp, Mondrian: The Art of Destruction (London, 1994), pl. 131.

James N. Wood and Teri J. Edelstein, The Art Institute of Chicago: Twentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture (Chicago, 1996), p.49 (ill.).

Briony Fer, On Abstract Art (New Haven, 1996), pp.50-52 (ill.).

Joop M. Joosten, Piet Mondrian: Catalogue Raisonné of the Work of 1911-1944 (New York, 1996), no. B127, pp. 48 (ill.), 295.

James N. Wood, Treasures from the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, 2000), p. 259 (ill.).

Matthew S. Witkovsky and Devin Fore, ed. Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Text. Exh. Cat. Art Institute of Chicago, 2017, cat. 540, p. 312.

Ownership History

Consigned to Galerie de “L’Effort Moderne” (Léonce Rosenberg), Paris, 1921-22. Jakob von Domselaer and Maaike von Domselaer-Middelkoop, Bergen, the Netherlands, 1922(?)-1940/45. John Rädecker, Groet, the Netherlands, 1940/45-c. 1948. John L. Senior, Jr., New York, by 1949-1956 [letter from Sidney Janis Gallery in curatorial file]. Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, 1956. Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., New York, March 1, 1957. Given by him to the Art Institute, 1957.

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