Mondrian – (Integration and Rhythm)

Piet Mondrian - Tree on the Kalfje - 1902 - 23 5 x 37.5 cm - oil on canvas

This small painting by Mondrian shows us how an excellent artist considers the composition even when quickly done.  Can you feel the connection between the tree and the bridge?  This is superb integration.  Another very sensitive integration is provided when your eye follows the river bank from the right of the painting, then connecting to a delicate branch which embraces the bridge, (see detail).

This painting also has a consideration which has stayed with me for years, that wonderful cross at the bottom right.  Why is it there?  It actually is a structural element, providing an oblique movement when you sense the parallel with the pruned branch.  It also completes the integrating eye paths by directing your eye back up to the river bank.  And on top of that the vertical of the cross is part of a rhythm of the tree trunk and the two sensitive verticals to the left.

The painting was probably done quickly, which is all the more impressive.  A composition does not have to be complex to be great, and this is a fantastic composition.

May I also mention another branch at the left which bends down, providing containment.


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