Vous aimez Mondrian, vous aimerez la campagne néerlandaise

The painter, known for his geometric paintings, has long surveyed, easel fixed at the bicycle, these bucolic landscapes and dishes not far from Amsterdam. Its brush has captured the misty atmosphere of Abcoude, the starting point of the “Mondrian Route”.

By Olivier RAZEMON

Everyone is undoubtedly capable of recognizing a world: a juxtaposition of squares and red, yellow or blue rectangles, separated by black lines drawn in the line, painted by this dead artist, in 1944 in New York. Some facetious amateurs even pride themselves on drawing colorful quadrilaterals and exhibiting them in their living room. Because Piet Mondrian is sometimes misunderstood. At the Kunstsammlung Museum, in Düsseldorf (Germany), the curator of an exhibition discovered last fall that a work entitled New York City 1 was hung upside down since 1941…

We know less that the artist, a major figure in modern art, began, at the very beginning of the 20th e century, by painting sweet landscapes, trees, rivers and mills, in The quiet Dutch countryside. In Abcoude, locality of the province of Utrecht today caught up by the agglomeration of Amsterdam, the photographer Nienke Meek, passionate about art, tells this unknown episode.

pupil at the Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam, Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan, who was not yet called Piet Mondrian, “dreamed of making money by making portraits, but he was not very Well. On the advice of a friend, he converted to the landscapes, took the train with his easel and went down to the first station, Abcoude, “said the photographer. At the same time, Parisian artists grabbed, after a short journey by railroad, the light and the sparkles of the Seine in Saint-Germain-en-Laye or Vésinet.

The old Abcoude station, an elegant white building, was transformed into a hotel. In this place begins the “Mondrian Route”, which Nienke Meek is visited by bike or on foot, along the gein. In the middle of cultivated plots, impeccably aligned, this small river bordered by weeping willows and covered with water lilies offers a country landscape. The wealthy families of Amsterdam had become used, with the railway, to spend the summer in houses in red brick, both austere and welcoming. Imposing mills with large wings, which the Dutch have been making since the end of the Middle Ages to pump the water from the polders, complete the panorama.

mobile easel, on wheels

In 1902, in the Netherlands, we already moved by bike. The young painter had transformed his into a mobile easel, stabilized thanks to crutches. Sitting on the saddle, he pencil sketches before returning to his workshop to paint the colors. “He deleted the details, played with the Enlightenment. Rather than representing reality, he preferred to express his emotions by painting,” says Nienke Meek, showing, in a small notebook, representations of the paintings.

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