This is an early example of the geometric mode of painting that Mondrian called Neo-Plasticism. The abstract two-dimensional nature of these compositions formed a new universal aesthetic language that was popularized through the magazine De Stijl. The avant-garde movement known by the same name held the promise of constructing a postwar world with a common point of visual reference, a way of abolishing artistic and even social hierarchies. Here, Mondrian uses thick black lines to divide the canvas into eleven different rectangles, some of which are painted in primary shades of red and blue. He created lighter hues by mixing primary colors with white. Over time, Mondrian ceased diluting his palette altogether in favor of pure primary colors.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): PM 21; Signed and inscribed (verso, on stretcher): titre: TABLEAU. HAUT/ P. MONDRIAN. Paris: 26 rue du Départ
the artist, Paris (1921–25; on consignment to the Galerie de "L'Effort Moderne," Paris, 1921–22, no. 7658; on consignment to Til Brugman, the Hague, 1924–25; sold in 1925 to Gosschalk); J. H. Gosschalk, the Hague and Wassenaar (1925–ca. 1948; on loan to the Haags Gemeentemuseum, the Hague, 1935–47; probably sold ca. 1948 to Polak); E. Polak, Amsterdam (until 1948; sold in 1948 to Janis); [Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, 1948; inv. no. 764; sold to Culberg]; Mr. and Mrs. Maurice E. Culberg, Chicago (1948–53); [Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, 1953–54]; Mrs. Arthur C. Rosenberg, Chicago (1954–69; sold on August 29, 1969 to Feigen); [Richard L. Feigen & Co., New York, 1969–70; sold on January 30, 1970 to Hahn]; [Stephen Hahn, New York, 1970–88; sold in 1988, through E. V. Thaw & Co., New York, to Gelman]; Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1988–d. 1998; her bequest to MMA)
Paris. Galerie "L'Effort Moderne". "Quelques aspects nouveaux de la tradition," October 29–November 1921, no catalogue.
Vienna Secession. "Internationale Kunstausstellung," September 11–October 20, 1924, no. 98 (lent by Frl. T. Brugman, Haag).
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. "Piet Mondrian: ter gelegenheid van de tentoonstelling van zijn werk," November 6–December 15, 1946, no. 95 (as "'Compositie' met rood geel blauw zwart," lent by Jos. H. Gosschalk, Wassenaar).
Kunsthalle Basel. "Piet Mondrian, 1872–1944," February 6–March 2, 1947, no. 19 (as "Composition, rot-gelb-blau-schwarz," lent by Jos. H. Gosschalk, Wassenaar).
The Hague. Kunsthandel G. J. Nieuwenhuizen Segaar. "Werk door Herbin, B. van der Leck, Metzinger, Mondriaan, Tobeen," February 21–March 20, 1948, no catalogue.
New York. Sidney Janis Gallery. "Piet Mondrian: Paintings 1910 through 1944," October 10–November 12, 1949, no. 19 (lent by Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Culberg, Chicago).
New York. Sidney Janis Gallery. "Painters of de Stijl: Debut of Abstract Art in Holland, 1917–21," May 7–June 2, 1951, no. 9 (as "Square Composition").
New York. Sidney Janis Gallery. "Recent French Acquisitions," December 7, 1953–January 2, 1954, no. 22.
New York. Sidney Janis Gallery. "French Art," May 3–24, 1954, no catalogue.
New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. "Piet Mondrian 1872–1944: Centennial Exhibition," October 8–December 12, 1971, no. 87 (lent by Mr. Stephen Hahn, New York).
New York. Sidney Janis Gallery. "Loan Exhibition of Works by Brancusi and Mondrian," December 2–31, 1982, no. 22.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," December 12, 1989–April 1, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 166).
London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," April 19–July 15, 1990, unnumbered cat.
Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "De Matisse à Picasso: Collection Jacques et Natasha Gelman," June 18–November 1, 1994, unnumbered cat. (p. 190).
Paris. Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, Galerie I. "Mondrian / De Stijl," December 1, 2010–March 21, 2011, unnumbered cat. (p. 217; as "TABLEAU, avec grand plan rouge, bleu, noir, vert clair, et gris-bleu").
Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis," October 14, 2013–January 5, 2014, unnumbered cat. (pl. 246; as "Tableau, with Large Red Plane, Blue, Black, Light Green, and Grayish Blue").
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. "Ettore Sottsass: Design Radical," July 21–October 8, 2017, no catalogue.
Maria Grazia Ottolenghi. L'opera completa di Mondrian. Milan, 1974, p. 110, no. 333, ill. p. 108 [French ed., Paris, 1976], as in the Hahn collection, New York.
Harry Holtzman and Martin S. James, ed. The New Art—The New Life: The Collected Writings of Piet Mondrian. Boston, 1986, fig. 152.
Sabine Rewald inTwentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 165–67, 309, ill. (color and bw).
William S. Lieberman inTwentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, p. 16.
Christian Derouet inMondrian in New York. Exh. cat., Galerie Tokoro. Tokyo, 1993, pp. 49, 60 n. 4.
Yve-Alain Bois inPiet Mondrian, 1872–1944. Ed. Angelica Zander Rudenstine. Exh. cat., Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague. Boston, 1994, p. 370 nn. 119, 122, calls it "Composition with Large Red Plane, Black, Blue, Yellow, and Gray".
William S. Lieberman. "Donation Gelman: l'École de Paris au Metropolitan." Connaissance des arts no. 554 (October 1998), p. 106.
Joop M. Joosten. Piet Mondrian: Catalogue Raisonné. Vol. 2, Catalogue Raisonné of the Work of 1911–1944. New York, 1998, pp. 290–92, no. B122, ill., calls it "Tableau, with Large Red Plane, Blue, Black, Light Green, and Grayish Blue".
Joop M. Joosten and Robert P. Welsh. Piet Mondrian: Catalogue Raisonné. Vol. 3, Appendix. New York, 1998, pp. 30, 32, 51–52.
Sabine Rewald in "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1999–2000." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 58 (Fall 2000), p. 58, ill. (color).
Marty Bax. Complete Mondrian. Hampshire, England, 2001, p. 501, ill., calls it "Tableau, with Large Red Plane, Blue, Black, Light Green and Greyish Blue".
Brigitte Léal, ed. Mondrian. Exh. cat., Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, Galerie I. Paris, 2010, pp. 294, 317, 351, ill. p. 217 (color).
Christian Derouet inMondrian. Ed. Brigitte Léal. Exh. cat., Centre Pompidou, Musée national d'art moderne, Galerie I. Paris, 2010, p. 133 n. 2.
Cees W. de Jong, ed. Piet Mondrian: Life and Work. New York, 2015, ill. p. 372, calls it "Tableau, with Large Red Plane, Blue, Black, Light Green, and Grayish Blue".