On this day in 1872 the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian was born. Though he started by painting landscapes, Mondrian was greatly influenced by the work of the cubists, especially Picasso and Braque, and saw abstraction as a way for art to transcend reality.
After attending art school he worked in The Netherlands before leaving in 1911 to live in Paris where his paintings became more geometric. He was also a member of the Theosophy movement and saw his work as seeking a deeper spiritual meaning to life.
Following the rise of Hitler, Mondrian moved to London and then to New York where he spent the last six years of his life. He died in 1944. Much of his work appears modern today though painted nearly a hundred years ago.
Here is a poem, Sonnet by Alan Seeger, about a different kind of modernity:
Down the strait vistas where a city street
Fades in pale dust and vaporous distances,
Stained with far fumes the light grows less and less
And the sky reddens round the day’s retreat.
Now out of orient chambers, cool and sweet,
Like Nature’s pure lustration, Dusk comes down.
Now the lamps brighten and the quickening town
Rings with the trample of returning feet.
And Pleasure, risen from her own warm mould
Sunk all the drowsy and unloved daylight
In layers of odorous softness, Paphian girls
Cover with gauze, with satin, and with pearls,
Crown, and about her spangly vestments fold
The ermine of the empire of the Night.
Today I will try not to be distracted or upset by the trivia and annoyances of modern life, but rather to be grateful for the benefits that I have received.