Overview

Piet Mondrian intended his abstract or so-called "neo-plastic" paintings to express his fundamentally spiritual notion that universal harmonies preside in nature. The horizontal and vertical elements of his compositions, assiduously calibrated to produce a balanced asymmetry, represented forces of opposition that parallel the dynamic equilibrium at work in the natural world. By 1921 Mondrian had distilled his compositions into black lines that intersect at right angles, defining rectangles painted only in white or gray and the three primary colors.

In 1918 the artist turned one of these square canvases 45 degrees to rest "on point," doing so without rotating the linear elements within the composition. Approximately three years later he merged that format with the elemental color scheme of his mature works to produce this monumental painting, the earliest of the neo-plastic diamond or lozenge compositions. Repainted around 1925, when the black lines were thickened, this picture relates to several other works of the 1920s, where color is restricted to the periphery. Mondrian said the diamond compositions were about cutting, and indeed the sense of cropping here is emphatic. Forms are incomplete, sliced by the edge of the canvas, thus implying a pictorial continuum that extends beyond the physical boundary of the painting.

Inscription

lower center: PM

Provenance

The artist; consigned 1925 to (Sophie Küppers, Hanover and Dresden); Friedrich Bienert [d. 1969], Dresden and Berlin; sold to (Galerie Rudolf Springer, Berlin); sold c. 1951 to Jon Nicholas Streep, Amsterdam and New York; John L. Senior, Jr., New York; (Sidney Janis Gallery, New York); sold 1955/1956 to Herbert and Nannette Rothschild, New York;[1] gift 1971 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1966
Herbert and Nannette Rothschild Collection, Brown University Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 1966, no. 112
1966
Piet Mondrian 1872-1944, The Art Gallery of Toronto; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, 1966, no. 94, repro.
1971
Piet Mondrian Centennial Exhibition, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1971, no 99, repro.
1978
Aspects of Twentieth-Century Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1978-1979, no. 80, repro., as Lozenge in Red, Yellow, and Blue.
1979
Mondrian: The Diamond Compositions, National Gallery of Art,1979, no. 6, repro.
1982
De Stijl, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1982
1983
Utopian Visions in Modern Art: Dreams and Nightmares, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, 1983
1994
Piet Mondrian: 1872-1944, Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1994-1996, no. 108, as TABLEAU NO. IV; Lozenge Composition with Red, Gray, Blue, Yellow, and Black.
1996
Abstraction in the Twentieth Century: Total Risk, Freedom, Discipline, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1996, no. 23, repro.
1996
Encounters with Modern Art: The Reminiscences of Nanette F. Rothschild: Works from the Rothschild Family Collections, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1996-1997, no. 64, repro.
Bibliography
1975
European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 240, repro., as Lozenge in Red, Yellow, and Blue.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 612, no. 948, color repro.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 276, repro.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 258, repro.
1994
Piet Mondrian: 1872-1944. Exh. cat. Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague; National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1994-1996: no. 108.
1996
Encounters with Modern Art: Works from the Rothschild Family Collections. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington; Philadelphia Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1996-1997: no. 64.
1997
Wilkins, David G. and Bernard Schultz and Katheryn M. Linduff. Art Past-Art Present. New York, 1997: no. 1-16, repro.
1998
Joosten, Joop M. Piet Mondrian: catalogue raisonné. 3 vols. Paris, 1998: 2:no. B156.
2000
Kirsh, Andrea, and Rustin S. Levenson. Seeing Through Paintings: Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies. Materials and Meaning in the Fine Arts 1. New Haven, 2000: 203-205, color fig. 220, fig. 222, 223.
2001
Southgate, M. Therese. The Art of JAMA II: Covers and Essays from The Journal of the American Medical Association. Chicago, 2001: 94-95, 211, color repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 426-427, no. 356, color repro.
2009
Cooper, Harry. The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection: Selected Works. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2009: 20, repro. 21.