patternsthatconnect

abstract art, a systems view

Mondrian and dance

with 4 comments

Broadway Boogie Woogie, by Piet Mondrian is a clear reference to music and dance. Mondrian was a keen ballroom dancer, and some of his works are named after dances, for example Fox-Trot B, and Fox-Trot-Lozenge-Composition-with-Three-Black-Lines.

I read in one place at least the implication that he was a good dancer, for example that he practised dance steps in his studio and was known as ‘The Dancing Madonna’ in Holland. Then in another place:

He went shopping for painter’s smocks with Naum Gabo’s wife Miriam and danced with Peggy Guggenheim and Virginia Pevsner in the London jazz clubs. His love of jazz and dancing was well known, but Miriam recalled that he “was a terrible dancer… Virginia hated it and I hated it, we had to take turns dancing with him”.

In an article entitled Dancing with Mondrian By Annette Chauncy, published by The International Journal of the Arts in Society, she suggests that the paintings were possibly inspired by the dances, especially the Foxtrot, the Quickstep and the Tango.

I also found this little film clip entitled Mondrian and Dance at the San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art, suggesting that the paintings ‘dance’ more than perhaps we thought.

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Written by Andy Parkinson

January 17, 2012 at 8:45 am

4 Responses

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  1. Great post Andy. I never knew any of this.

    Deborah Barlow

    January 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm

  2. Yes, a really great post, Andy. Usually Broadway Boogie Woogie is associated with lots of street traffic, cars and sounds. The dance aspect is fascinating and you have provided is wonderful references. thanks

    mariekazalia

    January 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm

  3. Thanks, both of you! Annette Chauncy draws on work by Harry Cooper. ‘Popular Models: Foxtrot and Jazz-Band in Mondrian’s Abstration’ in Music in Modern Art (2002) edited by James Leggio, and I would like to read that article but at over £70 for the book I might have a short wait! Well, it might be quite a long wait!

    Andy Parkinson

    January 18, 2012 at 7:38 am

  4. Great post Andy – Mondrian, what a complex personality to be sure!

    Terry Greene

    January 18, 2012 at 9:40 pm


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