What do the Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian have in common?


What do the Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein and the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian have in common? For philosopher and artist Renée Jorgensen Bolinger, the two have similar beliefs about the logic of space.

“Many of Mondrian’s pieces explore the relationships between adjacent spaces,” says Bolinger “and in particular the formative role of each on the boundaries and possibilities of the other. I based this painting [see above] off of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, in which he develops a theory of meaning grounded in the idea that propositions have meaning only insofar as they constrain the ways the world could be; a meaningful proposition is thus very like one of Mondrian’s color squares, forming a boundary and limiting the possible configurations of the adjacent spaces.”

A second-year PhD student in the philosophy program at the University of Southern California, Bolinger studied painting a Biola University before making philosophy her second major. “I actually came to philosophy quite late in my college career,” Bolinger says, “only adding the major in my junior year. I was fortunate to have two particularly excellent and philosophic art teachers, Jonathan Puls and Jonathan Anderson, who convinced me that my two passions were not mutually exclusive, and encouraged me to pursue both as I began my graduate education.”

Bolinger now works primarily on the philosophy of language, with side interests in logic, epistemology, mind and political philosophy. She continues to paint. We asked her how she reconciles her two passions, which seem to occupy opposite sides of the mind. “I do work in analytic philosophy,” she says, “but it’s only half true that philosophy and painting engage opposite sides of the mind. The sort of realist drawing and painting that I do is all about analyzing the relationships between the lines, shapes and color tones, and so still very left-brain. Nevertheless, it engages the mind in a different way than do the syllogisms of analytic philosophy. I find that the two types of mental exertion complement each other well, each serving as a productive break from the other.”

Bolinger has created a series of philosopher portraits, each one pairing a philosopher with an artist, or art style, in an intriguing way. In addition to Wittgenstein, she painted ten philosophers in her first series, many of them by request. They can all be seen on her Web site, where high quality prints can be ordered.

by Mike Springer

Source: Open Culture


At the Carnegie, Harry Holtzman Wanted to Have Mondrian’s Baby


THE DAILY PIC (#1432): One of the things I love about permanent collections in museums is the aesthetic schizophrenia they cause. Special exhibitions rarely provide the same discombobulation. So after yesterday’s moment of Victorian rococo, today’s Pic presents the other side of the Carnegie Museum’s split personality: An utterly orderly sculpture from 1940 by the devout American Mondrianist Harry Holtzman.

At this distance in time and culture, it’s hard for us to recognize how important Mondrian was to American art between the world wars. This country came late to abstraction, without much to pave the way for it, so those who espoused its Cause saw Mondrian – than whom no one is more abstract – as the epitome of everything they were fighting for.

However derivative his American followers might have been, back then, there, they mattered, big time. (Digging into Warhol’s early education for the biography I’m writing, I’ve come to realize that coming right after America’s Mondrian moment shaped his vexed, almost Oedipal relationship to the abstract – his college prof Balcomb Greene was a close colleague of Holtzman’s.)

I’m still not certain if Holtzman’s translation of Mondrian into 3D was a bold and worthwhile next step, or some kind of mistake in his reading of The Master. Either way, I can’t get over the way it foreshadows the 1960s columns built and painted by Anne Truitt. (Edith H. Fisher Fund Accession Number 83.1 Location Gallery 11, Scaife Galleries)

Source: ArtNet News

Post-Impressionism in Verona – Mondrian’s Place in a Long Line of Tradition

Vincent Van Gogh, Il seminatore 17 - 28 giugno 1888 ca. Olio su tela, 64,2x80,3 cm Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands © Collection Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, the Netherlands.
Vincent Van Gogh, Il seminatore 17 – 28 giugno 1888 ca. Olio su tela, 64,2×80,3 cm Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands © Collection Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, the Netherlands.

The exhibition Seurat, Van Gogh, Mondrian. Post-Impressionism in Europe, a European preview held Verona, features 70 incredible masterpieces from the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo including the renowned Self-Portrait (1887) of Van Gogh, Sunday at Port-en-Bessin (1888) by Seurat, The Dining Room (1886–87) by Signac and Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue (1927) by Mondrian.


The last section of the exhibition is devoted to the radical stance of Piet Mondrian, who completed the move to abstraction in the years of World War I by dividing the canvas into rectangles of colour. The four historic work on show date from 1913 on: Composition no. II (1913), Composition in Colour B (1917), Composition with Grid 5: Lozenge, Composition in Colour (1919) and Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue (1927).

The exhibition recounts how Post-Impressionism, born in the wake of Impressionism, gathered together all of the many developments in figurative art in the closing years of the 19th century in Europe. As photography began to blossom, painting took a very different course and abandoned the idea of perfect realism as the ideal objective of art. Painting had to seek its own specific path.

Post-Impressionism was not an authentic style in the strict sense but gathered together artists forced at a certain point in their experience to address the problem of reproduction. As a result, their tools became a way of communicating something rather than representing it.

In the space of just a few decades, this approach led to authentic revolutions in the field of art with the birth of the early avant-garde movements.