piet mondrian eu



Some of these works relate to an abstract rendering of the sea (1) while others to the ocean and a pier jutting out from the beach into the waters (3, 4, 5, 6).

The composition inspired by the sea (1) shows a horizontal extension which reminds on the boundless space of seascapes and dunes of 1909-10 whereas the Pier and Ocean ones introduce a vertical (the pier) which recalls the verticals of windmills, lighthouses and church towers.



As with the buildings that curb and counterbalance the extension of seascapes and dunes, here too the vertical (the pier) appears designed to express something more constant while the horizontal (the sea) heralds multiplicity and change.

The interaction between the ocean (horizontal) and the pier (vertical) recalls the basic structure of the naturalistic tree.


With respect to the tree, however, the Cubist subject of the pier immersed in the sea reveals more dynamic interaction between unitary element (the pier) and manifold element (the sea) than between the mutually static trunk and branches.


The duality vertical - horizontal generates a manifold space symbolizing in abstract terms the endless variety of the ral world. The duality is cancelled out in the square where the opposites, while remaining different, assume the same value.

The eye can linger on that point and contemplate in a more stable form what constantly changes in appearance in the surrounding space.


A second square can be seen in 6 above the square that we have identified as a unitary synthesis. Inside the second square we see a vertical segment divided by two horizontal segments that extend beyond the boundary of the square to the right and left. The two small horizontal segments form two crosses with the two vertical sides of the square. These two signs tell us that unity is opening up to duality.


1 - The Sea, Sketchbook 1, Domburg, 1914

2 - Photograph of a pier jutting into the ocean


3 - Pier and Ocean 2, 1914

4 - Pier and Ocean 3, 1914

5 - Pier and Ocean 4, 1914

6 - Pier and Ocean 5, 1915oo Click on to enlarge



6 - Pier and Ocean 5, 1915 Detail


On examining four versions of the Pier and Ocean works in sequential order, we can see in 3 a vaguely quadrangular area that is then concentrated in the upper section (4) to become a group of squares (5) and then one square which contains a sign of equivalence between the two opposite directions in (6).


The sign of equivalence between opposites is born inside a square and thus suggests an inner space, that is to say, the space of consciousness in which the changing external space is contemplated for a moment in synthesis.

It is, however, obvious that every synthesis generated by thought is necessarily partial and temporary, and must therefore open up again to the multiform and ever-changing aspect of physical reality.



The unitary synthesis achieved for an instant in the lower square in the form of the equivalence of opposites is again broken up into a duality that then flows back toward the variety of different situations marked again by the alternating predominance of one direction or the other. The unity generated with the first square opens up again to manifold space with the second.

The spatial development observed in 6 tells us that while equilibrium can be attained, it is a dynamic equilibrium that does not necessarily last for long once achieved. The vertical rises, interpenetrates with the horizontal, and produces a unitary synthesis that opens up again to the horizontal higher up. Unity reveals itself for an instant and then appears again as multiplicity.

ingrandisci click on to enlarge