Letters of Mondrian now available online

The Hague / Amsterdam, 12 March 2024 – The Huygens Institute for History and Culture of the Netherlands and the RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History today publish over 300 digitised letters by the world-famous artist Piet Mondrian. His letters are not only an important source for research into the life and work of the Dutch painter, but also give an insight into the cultural life of his time.

The Huygens Institute and the RKD are publishing the first batch of The Mondrian Papers, the online edition of all letters and articles by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian (1872-1944). The digital edition platform where the writings are presented offers numerous innovative options for searching the material. Thanks in part to the many explanatory notes and annotations to Mondrian’s letters, The Mondrian Papers gives new impetus to art historical research.

Impressive network

Piet Mondrian had an impressive network of relationships all over the world. He wrote thousands of letters, postcards and telegrams to artists, musicians, art dealers and critics. Of these, over 1,700 have been preserved worldwide. The Mondrian Papers showcases the original letters and theoretical articles, together with the transcription in the language in which Mondrian wrote his text. In addition, the Dutch and French texts are all accompanied by an English translation, giving Mondrian’s writings an international reach in their entirety for the first time.

The first selection contains the earliest letters up to July 1919. This covers Mondrian’s education and his first years in Paris from 1912 to 1914. The letters show that Mondrian played a much more prominent role within the influential De Stijl movement than previously thought. Mondrian’s extensive correspondence gives context to his work and describes how he developed his realistic style into his world-famous abstract style. We also get an insight into his personal life, his interests and his way of thinking.

Letters of Van Gogh

That the RKD and the Huygens Institute would act jointly in this project was a logical choice. Previously, the Huygens Institute, in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum, published the letters of Vincent van Gogh. Of the more than 1,700 letters by Piet Mondrian, over 700 are in the RKD’s collection. The information on Mondrian’s artworks comes directly from the RKD Research platform. As such, this new edition puts Piet Mondrian’s letters and writings in a coherent context. The Mondrian Papers is the model for future digital editions of artists’ correspondences.

As of today, The Mondrian Papers contains all Mondrian’s letters and writings up to July 1919. Material from the period July 1919 – February 1944 will be published in the coming years. The project has been made possible by contributions from the International Music and Arts Foundation, the Gieskes-Strijbis Fund, the Dioraphte Foundation, the Virtutis Opus Foundation, the Cultuurfonds and the Jaap Harten Fund.