Mondrian immigrated to New York in 1940, on the heels of a two-year sojourn in London. He had moved to Britain in 1938 to flee the threat of German invasion in Paris, only to leave London for the States when World War II moved northward.
Mondrian’s New York flat on East 59th Street in Manhattan was a white box peppered with small squares in his signature primary palette, with the studio’s desks, bookcases, and chairs forming the vertical and horizontal lines that he championed. The space paralleled the mature phase of his practice, which was marked by even more pared-down compositions.
While Mondrian’s studios seem to translate his paintings into three dimensions, the artist considered interior space to be distinct from painting. He believed that Neo-Plastic painting represented a closed or complete world unto itself, but an interior could never be viewed in its entirety or conceived of as a unified whole in quite the same way.
It’s not difficult to understand, however, why the peace and order of Neo-Plasticism would have appealed to Mondrian as a design aesthetic. For the Dutch artist, these studios must have served as refuge at a time when he was repeatedly uprooted due to events that lay beyond his control.