The Beyeler Foundation investigates seven paintings by Piet Mondrian

The Beyeler Foundation investigates seven paintings by Piet Mondrian

About the Piet Mondrian Conservation project
Through a three-year project (2019-2021), called the ‘Piet Mondrian Conservation project‘, the Fondation Beyeler in Basel is studying seven works by Piet Mondrian. The project includes the scientific investigation and conservation of three works from the artist’s early period and four from his later production, all part of the Beyeler’s permanent collection.

cover: THE CONSERVATION TEAM AT WORK
Piet Mondrian, Lozenge Composition with Eight Lines and Red (Picture No. III), 1938, Tableau  No. I, 1921–1925, Composition with Double Line and Blue, 1935 Riehen / Basel, Beyeler  Collection, © Mondrian / Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International Warrenton, VA USA, Photo: Mark Niedermann.

How the work of investigation and conservation of the works is developing
The first area of study includes non-invasive investigations aimed to understand the materials and techniques used by the artist. Examinations with grazing light, X-rays, ultraviolet and infrared radiation, provide important information about the paintings as they allow conservators to make cross-comparisons between the works created by the artist; furthermore, looking under and through the paint layer makes it possible to investigate Mondrian’s entire artistic process, for example finding out compositional changes during the works’ creation process.
The second area of investigation concerns the long-term conservation of the paintings.
As soon as sufficient information on the materials and techniques of a specific work has been gathered, the state of the paintings is assessed in detail regarding their changes over time.
On this basis, it is possible to ascertain issues that need to be addressed and/or if the original artist’s intentions are still adequately reflected in the work.
The reconstruction of the original frames is the third area of intervention. Mondrian himself often specified in detail in which way his paintings were to be presented. Based on historical photographs, documents, and annotations, as well as on the comparison with other works that have kept their original frame, the project aims to establish how the seven paintings in the Beyeler Collection were originally framed. The project also includes the implementation of a new method for mounting the works and placing them behind glass to ensure a safe yet visually effective presentation.

The three works from the artist’s early period

mondrian-eukalyptus-1912-Robert-Bayer

PIET MONDRIAN, EUKALYPTUS, 1912
Oil on canvas, 60,0 x 51,0 cm
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen / Basel, Beyeler Collection © Mondrian / Holtzman Trust
c/o HCR International Warrenton, VA USA. Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

PIET MONDRIAN, COMPOSITION NO. XVI (COMPOSITIE I, ARBRES), 1912–1913
Oil on canvas, 85,5 x 75,0 cm
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen / Basel, Beyeler Collection
© Mondrian / Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International Warrenton, VA USA.
Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

mondrian-composition-no-VI-Robert-Bayer

PIET MONDRIAN, COMPOSITION NO. VI (COMPOSITION 9, BLUE FAÇADE), 1914
Oil on canvas, 95,5 x 68,0 cm.
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen / Basel, Beyeler Collection
© Mondrian / Holtzman Trust, c/o HCR International Warrenton, VA USA
Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

The project’s website
The Piet Mondrian Conservation Project is extensively documented online through a dedicated section on Beyeler’s website.
The website presents the current state of research on every single work and provides rich visual material. The technical data are particularly noteworthy; those who visit the project’s website can explore high-resolution images of all seven works in the collection, taken in daylight, with grazing light, with ultraviolet and infrared illumination, and with x-rays. This material is an essential part of the scientific documentation and will be available to other researchers.
The website also contains various documents about the artist, his paintings, and the works carried out by the conservation team.
(https://www.fondationbeyeler.ch/en/pietmondrianconservationproject).

The four works from the artist’s later production

mondrian_tableau_no._I_Robert_Bayer

PIET MONDRIAN, TABLEAU NO. I, 1921–1925
Oil on canvas, 75,5 x 65,5 cm
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen / Basel, Beyeler Collection © Mondrian / Holtzman Trust
c/o HCR International Warrenton, VA USA. Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

mondrian-komposition-mit-gelb-Robert-Bayer

PIET MONDRIAN, COMPOSITION WITH YELLOW AND BLUE, 1932
Oil on canvas, 55,5 x 55,5 cm
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen / Basel, Beyeler Collection; acquired with a contribution by
Hartmann P. und Cécile Koechlin-Tanner, Riehen © Mondrian / Holtzman Trust
c/o HCR International Warrenton, VA USA. Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

mondrian-komposition-mit-doppellinie-Robert-Bayer

PIET MONDRIAN, COMPOSITION WITH DOUBLE LINE AND BLUE, 1935
Oil on canvas, 72,5 x 70,0 cm.
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen / Basel, Beyeler Collection © Mondrian / Holtzman Trust
c/o HCR International Warrenton, VA USA. Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

mondrian-rautenkomposition-mit-acht-Robert-Bayer

PIET MONDRIAN, LOZENGE COMPOSITION WITH EIGHT LINES AND RED (PICTURE NO. III), 1938. Oil on canvas, 100,5 x 100,5 cm
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen / Basel, Beyeler Collection © Mondrian / Holtzman Trust
c/o HCR International Warrenton, VA USA.Photo: Robert Bayer, Basel

The Beyeler Foundation is planning a major exhibition on Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) scheduled for 2022.
The Piet Mondrian Conservation Project is carried out by the Fondation Beyeler’s conservation team: Markus Gross (Chief Conservator), Friederike Steckling (Conservator) and Cathja Hürlimann (Assistant Conservator).

Pictures courtesy of Fondation Beyeler. https://www.fondationbeyeler.ch/en/

 

 


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