Companion Pieces

A88 Wood with Beech Trees, c.1899
Watercolour and gouache on paper, 45.5x57 cm Ben Nicholson Cumberland Farm C

This page was prompted by a painting spotted in Brighton Museum on a recent holiday. The piece, by Mondrian's friend Ben Nicholson, is, frankly, not very good. By contrast, having recently (more or less) completed the Pictures pages, I have become increasingly impressed with PM's early representational works and I would like to contrast their relative apparent skills.

By happy coincidence on the same day, I came upon a lovely book on Winifred Nicholson, his first wife, who brought Mondrian from Paris to London in 1938. The book also has a few suitable companion pieces.

Gustav Klimt (14th July 1862 - 6th February 1918)
Beechwood I, c.1902
Oil on canvas, 100x100 cm

A88 Wood with Beech Trees, c.1899
Watercolour and gouache on paper, 45.5x57 cm

desc A88
Ben Nicholson (10th April 1894 - 6th February 1982)
Cumberland Farm, 1930
oil on canvas

Bij Arnhem (Near Arnhem), 1902
Watercolour on paper

There is a teriffic biography of Nicholson by Sarah Jane Checkland.
Ben Nicholson Cumberland Farm A285
Winifred Nicholson (21st December 1893 - 5th March 1981)
Kate at Quai d'Auteuil, 1934
oil on canvas 80x65cm
Image from Winifred Nicholson, by Christopher Andreae

A68Op de Lappenbrink (On the Lappenbrink), 1899
Gouache on paper, 128x99 cm

I have no reason to suppose that Mondrian took this piece to Paris with him for Winifred to see thirty years later. It is interesting, therefore to wonder how both artists arrived at similar representations, when it is clear that both can draw faces far more accurately.
Winifred Nicholson, Kate at Quai d'Auteuil, 1934 A68 detail
Winifred Nicholson
Kate and Jake, Isle of Wight (originally called Hats), 1931-2
oil on canvas 67x75cm
Bristol City Art Gallery

B301 New York City, 1942
Oil on canvas, 119.3x114.2 cm

This one is more tongue-in-cheek than the others on the page. He might have seen it in London, or when he visited Winifred in Paris, as it was painted in 1931-32 and sold by the artist to the Friends of Bristol Art Gallery in 1971.
There's a similar piece in the National Gallery of Scotland.
Winifred Nicholson, Kate at Quai d'Auteuil, 1934 B301
Colin McCahon (1st August 1919 - 27th May 1987)

Reproduction of McCahon's works on this site will have to wait until I get permission from the trustees and I don't intend to ask for that until 2014. In the meantime I will show the Mondrian pieces here and include text links to the McCahon Trust pages. The other paintings in the Kaipara Flat series resonate with Rothko.

There are two McCahon paintings I am aware of which reference PM directly. (And this which does so rather obliquely.)

Mondrian's chrysanthemum of 1908, 1971
Synthetic polymer paint
Inscribed "Greetings to Mondrian's Chrysanthemum of 1908"

Mondrian drew and painted numerous chrysanths and here are a couple of candidates: I am minded through this addition to document and reproduce all the flower paintings. Someone has to (Shapiro made a good start) and it might as well be me.

C44Chrysanthumum, 1908
Charcoal on paper, 110x73.5 cm

A604 Chrysanthumum Blossom Leaning Right, 1908-09
Pencil and crayon on paper
Private collection
McCahon link

C44 A604
Colin McCahon
Here I give thanks to Mondrian, 1961
Enamel on hardboard, 121.5x91.5 cm

Again a choice for the Mondrian piece. It must be a lozenge and it should be monochromatic and so B211 will do. It might be argued that a TvD would be more appropriate.

B211 Composition No.IV, or Fox-Trot A Lozenge with Three Lines, 1929
Oil on canvas
Yale University
McCahon link

Jean Gorin (1899-1981)
Composition no.28, 1935
oil on canvas, 49x115 cm

B244 Composition (Blanc et Bleu), 1936
Oil on canvas, 121.3x59 cm

See also Hammershøi below.

Blotkamp juxtaposes these canvases (in black and white) in The Art of Destruction. As noted elsewhere, Blotkamp writes, 'Mondrian viewed Gorin as his most important follower'. (Blotkamp p 215). I am trying to find a colour image of the Gorin - see below.

I thought I had tracked down Composition 28 in the Berardo Collection, but it would appear that, as with Mondrian, Gorin was happy to reuse a prosaic title repeatedly. This one (image 3) is from 1930 and was shown in a 2009 Paris exhibition, From Miro to Warhol: The Berardo Collection in Paris at Musée du Luxembourg. This report states that "The [third section] is centred on Piet Mondrian's Composition with Yellow, Black, Blue, Red and Grey (1923), hanging next to Composition #28 (1930), a painting by Jean Gorin, whom Mondrian considered 'France's only neo-plastician'." B150 is also in the collection.

[May 2012] Derek Horn has come to my rescue with an image from Elle Decor, described as, "A precast concrete hearth is the focus of the dramatic two-story living room. Art on the fireplace wall includes pieces by Jean Gorin (1935) and Jean Arp (1956)".
Jean Gorin, Composition no.28, 1935 B244 C28 Gorin Arp Gorin
Jean Gorin

Meuris suggests another pairing of B165 and Gorin's Composition Losangique No.5, 1926.
Jean Gorin, Composition no.28, 1935 B165
Theo van Doesburg (30 August 1883 - 7 March 1931)
Composition XI, 1918
oil on canvas, 64.6x109 cm

B87Composition with Colour Planes 1, 1917
Gouache on paper, 48x60 cm

It looks as though Mondrian got there first.
TvD Composition XI B87
Vilhelm Hammershøi (15th May 1864 - 13th February 1916)
Dust Motes Dancing in the Sunbeams, 1900

B244 Composition (Blanc et Bleu), 1936
Oil on canvas, 121.3x59 cm

In this blog, Pete Medway suggests that Hammershøi's often largely featureless canvases, devoted to walls, doors and windows would, had he developed PM's obsessional palette, have precursed Mondrian's work. While the blog does not refer to specific works, I have used one of the long ones to complement the doors.
HammershoiDust B244
Albert Dedden & Paul Keizer
Always Boogie Woogie, 2002
Fibreglass and plastic

B269 Composition en Blanc, Noir et Rouge , 1936
Oil on canvas, 102x104 cm

The monument is in Winterswijk, where Mondrian's family moved when he was 8. It lights up at night. The photographer is Jeanne Kliemesch.

The reverse of the monument is shown below: I'll fill in the details later.
Winterswijk B269
name (dates)
title, date

title, date

(18th February 2011)
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978)
Bridge Game, 1948

B217Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow, 1930
Oil on canvas, 46x46 cm

This companionship is something of a surprise, but suggested by this piece in The Telegraph where Andrew Graham-Dixon writes,

This daringly bird�s-eye view of two couples, a pair of tricks into their contract, was originally painted in the colours of a post-war Mondrian: a knowing reference on Rockwell�s part, to judge by the mock-abstract nature of the composition, with its figures jammed into quadrilinear chairs, and its cards laid out on a stark cube of bright red. But in the Post cover that followed, all that subtlety is lost: the reproduction is a dull, fudged thing by comparison.

It was a brilliant, eye-opening exhibition and just a few miles round the South Circular at the Dulwich Gallery. This painting was one of the most striking on display and grabbed your attention as you entered the room. Although I didn't make a Mondrian connection at the time, now it has been pointed out, I would add that the player at the top does bear a resemblance to Mondrian. It would be remiss not to draw attention to The Connoisseur another Rockwell piece celebrating (?) Pollock - the only postcard I bought at the show.

And another word-association-football moment, an extraordinary add for Spuds cigarettes and mouth-happiness found in Period Paper while searching for the dimensions of Bridge Game.
Bridge Game B217
Connoisseur Spuds
name (dates)
title, date

title, date

desc desc

Back to main page

page started October 2010