The Discovery of Mondrian at The Gemeentemuseum

A rediscovery of Piet Mondrian’s early works shows the Dutch painter in a new lightArt

By Giovanna Dunmall

If you thought Piet Mondrian’s art was all abstract geometric forms and primary colours, a new exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum will have you reconsidering this notion. Upon entering the first room, you spot the still life of a dead hare and faithful recreation of an early morning view of Amsterdam’s famed Singel canal.

The next few halls continue in the same vein, showing dozens of bucolic and, at first glance, traditional landscapes and depictions of the sea, dunes and windmills. In total some 300 of the artist’s works – a quarter of his entire output and almost the entirety of the museum’s Mondrian collection – are on show in the exhibition titled ‘The Discovery of Mondrian.’ Many of them have never seen before by the public, but rediscovered by the museum staff during a massive restoration project between 2009 and 2015.

The little-known early work is important believes curator Hans Janssen, as it shows just how innovative and modern the artist truly was.’ He speaks of the ‘sense of depth’ that carried through to his later work, the visibly sophisticated brushwork techniques (‘the working of the paint’) but also of something else: ‘At first glance some of them look like 19th century rubbish but they have a quality that is very hard to describe and that has to do with a sense of inner self’. Indeed there is a sense of quiet spirituality and optimism that is a constant in all the work, as well as a potent luminosity that lifts the work out of the mundane. (…)

Read more : The Discovery of Mondrian at The Gemeentemuseum | Wallpaper*

Ad Reinhardt | WideWalls

The advocate of the philosophy he called Art-as-Art, Ad Reinhardt was a prominent painter, writer, critic and educator whose work has been associated with the Abstract Expressionism although it had its origins in Geometric Abstraction, announcing the Minimal and Conceptual Art and Monochrome Painting. As a member of the American Abstract Artists, he was a part of the group gathered at Betty Parsons Gallery that became known as Abstract Expressionism. Recognizable for his cartoons that made fun of the art, Reinhardt is also remembered for the Black or Ultimate Paintings that he claimed to be the “last paintings” that anyone can paint.

Ad Reinhardt – Abstract Painting, 1948, photo via

Early Life and Decision to Study Art History

Adolph Frederick Reinhardt was born on December 24, 1913, in Buffalo, New York. He showed an interest in art from his early childhood, working as an illustrator for the school’s newspapers. Rejecting several scholarships from art schools, he chose to study art history at Columbia University in New York, under the famous Meyer Shapiro who gave him a solid background in theory and humanities through latest trends and contemporary approaches. Shapiro also had a great influence on Reinhardt’s political views, introducing him to the radical leftist Marxist believing that he adhered for the rest of his life. In 1935, he began artistic training at the national Academy of Design and at the American Artists School in New York, falling under the influence of two prosperous painters, Carl Holty and Francis Criss who worked under the postulates of the Cubism and Constructivism.

Reinhardt studied art history at Columbia University in New York under the famous Meyer Shapiro
Ad Reinhardt – Abstract Painting, 1960, photo via (Left) – Red Abstract, 1952, photo via

Strivings for an Absolute Abstract Forms

During the late 30’s Reinhardt was among the artists employed by the government WPA project, which proved to be important for his further career, considering his acquaintance with Willem de Kooning and Arshile Gorky with whom he became a life-long friend. Creating in a realm of the geometric abstraction, his work starting to show the aspects of gestural abstraction. In this period, he worked a freelance illustrating job for several New York publications. Constantly striving for an absolute form of abstraction deprived of narratives or any kind of reference to anything outside the canvas, Reinhardt could no longer find himself in Abstract Expressionism, charging it for the opulence of emotional indications and a cult of the ego. Highly influenced by the art of Kazimir Malevich and Russian Suprematist theories, he became occupied with solid fields of color arranged in geometric forms of squares and rectangles, directly inspired by Malevich’s Black Square (1915). In his theoretical writings Reinhardt has brought these ideas into connection with complex philosophies, as Neo-Platonism, Negation Theology and Zen Buddhism.

Reinhardt was highly influenced by the art of Kazimir Malevich and Russian Suprematist theoriesAd Reinhardt – Untitled, 1966, photo via (Left) – Abstract Painting Blue, photo via

Painting in Red, Blue and Black

Believing in an absolutely pure, ordered and balanced abstract art, in 1950’s Reinhardt began his experiments using the single color in the series of paintings. He started with Red paintings, then the Blue ones and finally came to the Black that marked his career for the rest of his life. Bringing the medium of painting to its limits of expression, he tended to create absolute zero, the end of the light. Challenging the viewer’s patience, making him stunned by the complete absence of narrative, palette, or any other element that everybody was used to, Reinhardt explained that everything is on the move, so the art should be still. He created collaborative art pieces, the ones whose existence were impossible without the viewer’s presence. As our experience of particular painting alters, instead of the inert images, these works became events. They change in every different feeling of their audience. Read more (…) : Ad Reinhardt | WideWalls

He was in a constant search for the pure and balanced abstract art

Top Image : Ad Reinhardt portrait, 1966, photo via

The Incredible Life and Collection of Peggy Guggenheim | WideWalls

The Life of Peggy Guggenheim

Marguerite ”Peggy” Guggenheim was born in New York in 1898 to a Jewish family. Her biographer Jacqueline Bograd Weld said that it wasn’t just Marguerite who was fascinating as a subject, but that her entire family was full of wonderful eccentricities. Her mother Florette Seligman who came from a family of bankers was known to repeat everything three times, while one of her aunts used to sing most of what she said, possibly leading her husband to an early death. Her father, Benjamin Guggenheim was member of the prominent mining family. They had two more daughters – Hazel and Benita, who were Peggy’s only companions in her childhood and who both lost their lives tragically as young women. The family enjoyed the wealth and comforts of high society. For Peggy, those early years of bourgeois lifestyle were insufferably boring. When her father died on the RMS Titanic she was 13 years old and her family fortune was already decimated. At the age of 19 she inherited her father’s money. She called herself a poor Guggenheim, which was true only in a sense that her inherited wealth was considerably less than that of her cousins. This was just one more thing setting her apart from what she knew. Peggy craved adventure, fulfillment and recognition. Rebelling against aristocratic lifestyle and future as some rich guy’s wife, she found a job in the avant-garde bookshop The Sunrise Turn, where she was exposed to artist and radical thinkers. A year later, in 1921, she moved to Paris, to a city that was giving birth to an art revolution. She marveled at the bohemian world, sharing it intimately with women and men like Kiki de Montparnasse, Man Ray, James Joyce and Ezra Pond. It was in Paris where her love for sex and art was fully awakened.

News is that Man Ray wrote many letters to GuggenheimLeft: Man Ray – Peggy Guggenheim, 1924, photo via / Right: Peggy Guggenheim in in her bedroom; Behind her Alexander Calder’s Silver Bed Head (1945–46), 1961, photo via

Lire la suite : The Incredible Life and Collection of Peggy Guggenheim | WideWalls

Zao Wou-Ki: 10 things to know

10 things to know about Zao Wou-Ki

Ahead of an exhibition at Christie’s and a first museum retrospective in the U.S., we offer an introduction to the artist who bridged the divide between Eastern and Western traditions

1- Zao Wou-Ki studied under a pioneer of modern paining in China

Zao started drawing and painting at the age of 10. His father, a banker, encouraged his early interest in art, sending Zao to study at the Hangzhou School of Fine Arts under Lin Fengmian, a respected artist who was later recognised as a pioneer of modern painting in China. In 1941, at the age of 21, Zao presented his first exhibition in Chongqing and his father bought his first work.

Zao Wou-Ki (1920–2013), Peinture, 1958. Oil on canvas. 28 ¾ x 36 ¼ in (73 x 92 cm). © Zao Wou-Ki, ProLitteris, Zurich

2- Paris was an inspiration for Zao

After five years as an art teacher at the Hangzhou School, Zao went to Paris in 1947 to take art courses. He spent his first afternoon at the Louvre. In 1948, he made the move permanent.Paris was an inspiration for Zao, who had idolised Matisse and Picasso in his formative years and continued to be influenced by Western modernism and the work of the Impressionists and Expressionists. Here, he would become one of the art scene’s established luminaries until his death in 2013.

3- Moving to New York saw him develop a bolder style

The artist first discovered New York on a trip with the French artist Pierre Soulages, and the city opened up new perspectives and opportunities for him. Zao benefited from visibility in the U.S. through the Cadby-Birch Gallery and the Kleeman Gallery in 1954 and 1956. Subsequently the artist was invited to join the prestigious roster of the Samuel Kootz Gallery, with whom he remained until the gallery’s closure in 1966. In New York Zao encountered the work of Abstract Expressionist painters Paul Klee, Franz Kline, Philip Guston and Adolph Gottlieb, and in response began to develop a bolder style working with bigger canvases.

Zao Wou-Ki (1920–2013), 10.5.62, 1962. Oil on canvas. 51 ⅛ x 35 ⅛ in (130 x 89 cm). © Zao Wou-Ki, ProLitteris, Zurich

4- He mixed with the greatest artists of their day

Zao cultivated an extensive circle of friendships with fellow artists and influential cultural figures during his lifetime. He developed close relationships with Jean-Paul Riopelle, Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, Joan Mitchell and Sam Francis, among many others.

5- He inspired poetry with his work

Zao Wou-Ki first worked as an illustrator with Henri Michaux, the French poet and painter. In response to Zao’s first lithographs, Michaux had spontaneously written eight poems to accompany Zao’s work, without ever having met the artist. The result, Lecture par Henri Michaux de huit lithographies de Zao Wou-Ki (1950), was the beginning of a lifelong collaboration and friendship.

Zao Wou-Ki (1920–2013), 18.11.66, 1966. Oil on canvas. 38 x 76 ⅝ in (96.5 x 194.5 cm). © Zao Wou-Ki, ProLitteris, Zurich

6- He had a complicated relationship with Chinese art

Zao’s initial exposure to Western modernist painting led to a rejection of the classical conventions of Chinese calligraphy and landscape painting. By 1971, however, he had returned to the brush-and-ink technique in which he was trained in China, with work that reflected its sources in Chinese traditions but also his conceptual roots in Western abstraction.Zao explained in a 1962 interview with the French magazine Preuves, ‘Although the influence of Paris is undeniable in all my training as an artist, I also wish to say that I have gradually rediscovered China.’ He added, ‘Paradoxically, perhaps, it is to Paris that I owe this return to my deepest origins.’

Zao Wou-Ki (1920–2013), 18.10.89, 1989. Oil on canvas. 63 ⅜ x 39 ⅜ in (161 x 100 cm). © Zao Wou-Ki, ProLitteris, Zurich

7- Jacques Chirac, former president of France, was a friend

As an aficionado of Asian art, Chirac developed an admiration for the works of Zao, and wrote the preface to the catalogue for Zao’s first major Chinese retrospective in Shanghai in 1998. In 2006 Chirac appointed Zao to the Legion of Honour, France’s highest recognition.

Zao Wou-Ki (1920–2013), Histoire sur la mer, 2004. Oil on canvas. 51 ⅛ x 76 ¾ in (130 x 195 cm). © Zao Wou-Ki, ProLitteris, Zurich

8- Demand for his work was and remains — strong

Demand for Zao’s work was strong throughout the 1960s in Paris, London and New York, and took off in the Asian market in the 1970s and 1980s. In the years before his death in 2013 at the age of 92, Zao’s works consistently sold at auction for six figures, often reaching auction highs of US$5 million and more. In 2011, sales of his paintings totalled US$90 million. Posthumously, his works have continued to accrue in value, as shown with the sale of Untitled (Vert émeraude) for HK$70,680,000 / US$9,144,769 in May at Christie’s Hong Kong.

Zao Wou-Ki (1920–2013), 19 mars 2006, 2006. Triptych, oil on canvas. Each: 76 ¾ x 38 ¼ in (195 x 97 cm). Overall: 76 ¾ x 114 ⅝ in (195 x 291 cm). © Zao Wou-Ki, ProLitteris, Zurich

9- His name is prescient

Wou-Ki means ‘no limits’ in Chinese — a prescient name for an artist who experimented in oil on canvas, ink on paper, lithography, engraving and watercolour, and who embraced different cultural identities without ever being beholden to one.

10- His first museum retrospective in the United States begins this September

Though Zao’s paintings are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim and Tate Modern, his first U.S. museum retrospective, No Limits: Zao Wou-Ki, opens at the Asia Society in New York on 9 September. Drawing together key works from public and private collections in America, Europe and Asia, this exhibition reveals Zao Wou-Ki’s status as a true ‘transnational’ artist.

Source : Zao Wou-Ki: 10 things to know


David Nash and the mystery of Wooden Boulder, his missing sculpture

David Nash’s most celebrated artwork has vanished. But what does it mean?

For 35 years, the artist David Nash mapped the progress of Wooden Boulder, his ‘free-range sculpture’, as it journeyed down the River Dwyryd in Wales. But now the gargantuan oak sphere has vanished.

James Fox investigates. (...)

Source : David Nash and the mystery of Wooden Boulder, his missing sculpture