Piet Mondrian. Trafalgar Square. 1939-43

Piet Mondrian Trafalgar Square 1939-43

The Museum of Modern Art, Floor 5, Collection Galleries

In September 1938 Mondrian moved from Paris to London to escape the threat of a German invasion. There he made Trafalgar Square, the first in a series of paintings titled after locations in cities that gave him refuge during World War II. The small, subtly textured planes of primary colors that seem to vibrate within their black perimeters are smaller and their arrangement more syncopated than in many of the artists earlier canvases: color segments expand across two rectangular fields in the larger black grid, and thickened blocks of black function as both line and plane (at lower right, for example). The date "39–43" inscribed on the original canvas stretcher suggests that Mondrian revisited this painting after his flight to New York in 1940 to escape the escalating war.

Gallery label from 2010.
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
57 1/4 x 47 1/4" (145.2 x 120 cm)
Credit
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William A. M. Burden
Object number
510.1964
Department
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

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This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.

The artist; Harry Holtzman (Piet Mondrian Estate), New York, 1944 [1]; sold to John L. Senior, Jr., New York / Danbury, Conn., 1950 [2]; sold to Sidney Janis, New York, May 24, 1957 [3]; sold to William A. M. Burden and Margaret Livingston Partridge Burden, New York, June 1957 [4]; acquired by The Museum of Modern Art, New York (Gift of Mr. and Mrs. William A. M. Burden), 1964.

[1] Lender to the exhibitions Piet Mondrian, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 21-May 13, 1945]; no. 50; Piet Mondriaan, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, November-December, 1946, no. 119; Piet Mondrian, 1872-1944, Kunsthalle Basel, February 6-March 2, 1947, no. 4; Piet Mondrian Paintings 1910 Through 1944, Sidney Janis Gallery New York, October 10-November 12, 1949, no. 28.
[2] See Robert P. Welsh, and Joop M. Joosten, Piet Mondrian: catalogue raisonné, New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998, vol. 2, pp. 417-418, B322. Lender to the exhibitions Piet Mondrian, Sidney Janis Gallery, February 5-March 17, 1951; Selections from 5 New York Private Collections, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, June 26-September 9, 1951; Some Businessmen Collect Contemporary Art: An Exhibition of Contemporary Paintings by American and European Artists from Private Collections of American Professional and Business Men, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, April 6-27,1952; 50 Years of Mondrian, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, November 2-30, 1953, no. 40; 5 Years of Janis, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, September 29-October 31, 1953 no. 41; Paintings from Private Collections, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, May 31 to September 5, 1955.
[3] See Robert P. Welsh, and Joop M. Joosten, Piet Mondrian: catalogue raisonné, New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1998, vol. 2, pp. 417-418, B322.
[4] Ibid.

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