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.
lower center: PM
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; gift 1971 to NGA.
- Herbert and Nannette Rothschild Collection, Brown University Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 1966, no. 112
- Piet Mondrian 1872-1944, The Art Gallery of Toronto; The Philadelphia Museum of Art; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, 1966, no. 94, repro.
- Piet Mondrian Centennial Exhibition, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1971, no 99, repro.
- Aspects of Twentieth-Century Art, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1978-1979, no. 80, repro., as Lozenge in Red, Yellow, and Blue.
- Mondrian: The Diamond Compositions, National Gallery of Art,1979, no. 6, repro.
- De Stijl, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, 1982
- Utopian Visions in Modern Art: Dreams and Nightmares, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, 1983
- 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.
- Abstraction in the Twentieth Century: Total Risk, Freedom, Discipline, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1996, no. 23, repro.
- 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.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1975: 240, repro., as Lozenge in Red, Yellow, and Blue.
- Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 612, no. 948, color repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 276, repro.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 258, repro.
- 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.
- 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.
- Wilkins, David G. and Bernard Schultz and Katheryn M. Linduff. Art Past-Art Present. New York, 1997: no. 1-16, repro.
- Joosten, Joop M. Piet Mondrian: catalogue raisonné. 3 vols. Paris, 1998: 2:no. B156.
- Kirsh, Andrea, and Levenson, Rustin S. Seeing Through Paintings: Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies. Physical Examination in Art Historical Studies, vol. 1. New Haven, 2000: 203-205, color fig. 220, fig. 222, 223.
- 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.
- Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 426-427, no. 356, color repro.
- Cooper, Harry. The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection: Selected Works. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2009: 20, repro. 21.