Piet Mondrian, Color Theory, and the Winter Wardrobe

I like to say that during winter I wear lots of colors, they all just happen to be either blues or greens.  Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s a pretty poor joke, but the real joke is the fact that last week I actually contemplated buying yet another olive green jacket to add to my current collection of at least six.  While the summer sun essentially acts as an excuse to wear whatever colors combinations you can imagine no matter how distasteful, winter has the opposite effect, driving us all to pare down our wardrobes.  As I’ve talked about before, I view how we dress as a reflection of our surroundings, and whether that’s a conscious decision or not, to me it becomes all the more apparent in the cold.  With the flower beds all but shriveled up entirely, naked trees abound, and sidewalks littered by dead leaves, it feels only natural that we settle into this pattern of fewer, cooler tones.

I, for one, find myself getting bored with what I’m wearing a lot earlier in the season during winter, and much of this has to do with the fact that there’s only so many times I can wear some variation of the blue sweater, green jacket combo before I’m just about ready to sell it all.  As they say boredom begets inspiration, and so lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the work of Piet Mondrian.  Over the past few months, as the blogosphere has left me pretty numb, I’ve started to think about inspiration on different terms, searching elsewhere for ideas, rather than staring at whatever stock “steezy, spreezy” fit is trending that week.

A Dutch born painter who worked throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, around the 1920’s Mondrian began using bold primary colors, in a style that he helped to create called neoplasticism.  What strikes me about Mondrian’s work in this era is that despite his bold lines and colors, his paintings never felt assaulting because his structure allowed the viewer to read the work as if it were merely letters on a page.  Mondrian’s work is unique in that it can be interpreted simultaneously as abstract and organized, but personally, it always reminds me of the cold.  Between his heavy use of negative space, the continuous black lines, and his deliberate use of bold rectangular blocks of color, I view Mondrian’s work as a reinterpretation of what the cold can mean.  He shows how even against sharp lines and hollow spaces there’s still always room for color.  This speaks to the starkness of winter and how even on those bleak days, we shouldn’t revert to the dull.

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  1. Viktor Z said:

    Mondrian is ok, but Olle Baertling was king of colours.

    • While I disagree wholeheartedly that Mondrian was just ok, I do agree that Baertling was great, although his work conveys a different series of emotions (to me at least) than what I was trying to highlight this week.

  2. Caleb said:

    Mondrian is Dutch, no Danish. Born in Amersfoort.

  3. Caleb said:


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