Between Amsterdam and Paris: the Dutch avant-garde at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
By the classical moderns we mean the Dutch artists who became known in the first quarter of the 20th century for the innovation and daring expressed in their work; both in terms of their subjects and way of painting. In these years, Paris was the artistic Mecca, where Neo-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism presented themselves at the Salons and numerous exhibitions. Young artists traveled to the French capital for a short or longer period to become acquainted with these innovative movements and subsequently to process their impressions in their own, modern style. Numerous Dutch painters also visit Paris. The best known is Kees van Dongen who continued to live in Paris. Jan Sluijters and Leo Gestel return in 1904, Sluijters again in 1906, plunging into the vibrant nightlife of Montmartre. For Gestel, the visit to Paris gives an impulse to drawing and sketching elegant women and the nightlife of Amsterdam. After their return to the Netherlands, many of them settled in Amsterdam, where the art climate with the annual exhibitions of St. Lucas in 1908, 1909 and 1910 provided fertile ground for change and experiment. Modern art from this time therefore has many styles, schools and movements. These are seldom clearly delineated, they are often overlapping and always complex. The work of Jan Sluijters and Leo Gestel, Jan Toorop, Otto van Rees and Lodewijk Schelfhout is one of them. In addition, numerous individualists are also considered to be avant-garde, such as the painters Kees Maks, Germ de Jong, Willy Sluiter, Dirk Nijland, Conrad Kickert, Jacob Bendien, Adriaan Lubbers. Amsterdam was, especially because of the exhibition of St. Lucas in 1910, together with Domburg the center of luminism. Piet Mondrian also painted landscapes in this style during the heyday of luminism.
Piet Mondrian 1905-1908: Search for Perfection.
Piet Mondrian's work from the early 20th century is also characterized by an urge to search and experiment on the way to abstraction. In the period 1895-1908, under the influence of theosophy and contemporary art movements, he gradually detached himself from visible reality and experimented with colors, image structure and simplification of forms. This would eventually lead to him depicting nature in abstract horizontal and vertical lines and areas in primary colors. From about 1902 onwards, he painted landscapes on the banks of the Gein for a longer period, which offered him an almost inexhaustible wealth of motifs. He depicts mills, farms and quiet river banks from various points of view, at different times of the day in full, strong colors or in a tonal palette. Especially between 1905 and 1908, his research is increasingly focused on the effect of the light of the sun or moon. In these paintings the details often lapse and simple, powerful shapes - groups of trees, mills - determine the image. They are silent, dreamy landscapes that seem less to represent what the painter saw than to form perfect compositions in which nothing could be added or omitted. In June 1911 he visited Paris for the first time, in December of that year he moved in permanently and in 1912 moved into a studio at 26 Rue du Départ where he continued his experiments. Because this work was understood and appreciated by only a small group of enthusiasts, he occasionally paints naturalistic flowers, for which he can always find buyers.