books for creative kids
  • Contemporary Art in the Classroom: Mondrian & Abstraction
  • Sarah Heffernan
  • inspiration
Contemporary Art in the Classroom: Mondrian & Abstraction

Abstraction is no stranger to artists, and it’s never too early to introduce it to your little one! Introducing abstraction to your child encourages them to think about what they see differently. Provide some examples like Piet Mondrian, a Dutch painter whose famous paintings deconstruct and abstract familiar imagery beyond recognition, to show your child the many forms of representation available to them.

Piet Mondrian, whose most famous works were heavily influenced by Picasso’s abstractions, created striking cubist paintings whose evolution can be tracked throughout his career. His early work features impressionist depictions of trees, and slowly his paintings become more and more abstracted and deconstructed until finally the branches of the trees are represented with straight horizontal and vertical lines and the shades of the leaves in bold primary colors.

Mondrian sought to find the true “spirit” of the subjects of his paintings, and did so by eliminating elements that clouded or distracted from what he considered to be the "spirit". His approach resulted in some independently beautiful work, that eventually visually became completely separate from where he began. Below is a example of how his work changes from representational to highly abstracted, all while depicting the same object: a tree. 

Evening; Red Tree, 1908


The Gray Tree, 1911


Tree, 1912


Tableau No. 2 / Composition No VII, 1913


Composition with Gray and Light Brown, 1918


Composition with Color Planes and Gray Lines 1, 1918


Composition A, 1923


Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow 1927 


Tap into the innate creativity of children and encourage them to explore ways of abstracting their imagery. How can they re-imagine a tree or another common object in their lives? Playing with representation in art is a fun way for your child to challenge the schemas they begin to develop as they get older, learn that addition can come about by means of subtraction, and simplicity can be invoked as a powerful tool.

  • Sarah Heffernan
  • inspiration

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