What to do in Paris when end-of-season sales are finished and weather is not nice? Apart from eating, of course, one of the remaining options is visiting an exhibition. The Centre Pompidou aka Notre Dame des Tuyaux (“Our Lady of Pipes” as it is called by Parisians, due to its uniquely monumental architecture) constantly offers blockbuster exhibits. The Mondrian / De Stijl exhibition, now through March 21st 2011, offers two paths: one dedicated to Piet Mondrian, famous master of abstraction and the other to De Stijl (“The Style”), the movement embraced by Mondrian. The exhibition applies De Stijl philosophies on art and abstraction to every realm of artistic creation, from painting to sculpture, architecture, and even furniture.
The exhibition starts with introductory rooms about the De Stijl movement. Each provides very interesting background such as its influences and sources (theosophy and symbolism), as well as, explanations about the beginnings of the movement. Surprisingly, you will have to wait until the end of the exhibition to see the purely De Stijl pieces because Mondrian’s works constitute the – metaphorical and physical – core of the exhibition.
Don’t miss the rooms showcasing the dazzling stained glasses designed by Mondrian, as well as, the reconstruction of Mondrian’s Parisian atelier. Just be careful not to go to Pompidou on a crowded day, as access to the atelier is limited to 10 visitors at a time. Of course, the well-known “Mondrianesque” paintings are here: primary colors, black lines, abstract and frontal-quality. It is quite a game to find the differences between twin-like paintings, but it is even more fascinating to discover how he got there via Cubist experiments, the process of abstracting reality.
The modernity of De Stijl movement is quite striking, especially in the second part of the exhibition. Though abstraction is materialized in furniture, De Stijl’s philosophy is applied to architecture. Showcased here are designs of very contemporary houses into which most Parisians lacking of space would dream moving… Definitely worth a visit.
Centre Pompidou – Mondrian/De Stijl
December 1, 2010 – March 21, 2011.
Address: Place Georges Pompidou, 75004
Métro: Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville, Châtelet
Tél: +33 (0)1 44 78 12 33
Hours: 11am – 9pm (11pm on Thursdays). Museum closed on Tuesdays.