Fox Trot A Artist: Piet Mondrian (Dutch, 1872–1944)

1930

Modern and Contemporary Art

On view, 3rd floor, Modern and Contemporary Art and Design


Fox Trot A is an instance of Mondrian’s "lozenge" paintings, which the artist made by rotating a square canvas forty-five degrees. The artist first experimented with the diamond-shaped format in 1918 as a leading member of de Stijl. Founded in 1917 in Amsterdam, de Stijl was a movement of loosely-affiliated artists cohering around Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg that sought to create a purely abstract art composed of elemental forms and colors. It was also the name of an eponymous journal spearheaded by van Doesburg that published a number of texts central to the movement.


Though minimal in form and consisting only of black and white, Fox Trot A offers a sense of expansion. Because of Mondrian’s strategic composition, the black lines appear to be cropped in a manner that suggests their continuation in space. The painting’s angled upper edges create far more openness than a terminal, horizontal border would allow, seeming to leave the upwards thrust of the parallel vertical lines unconstrained. As such, Fox Trot A exemplifies the manner in which the lozenge freed Mondrian’s work from the stultifying effects of the grid and put painting in dialogue with the supporting wall by defamiliarizing the shape of the canvas. Yet this technique also ruptured the painting’s alignment with the orthogonality of its architectural environment.  Unlike van Doesburg, Mondrian did not think neo-plasticism should be extended to architecture and design.


The painting’s title reflects Mondrian’s deep interest in popular music and dance—new, jazz-inflected art forms that the artist saw as akin to his own formal interest in visual rhythm generated through the "continuous opposition of pure means".

Medium

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

30 13/16 × 30 13/16 in. (78.2 × 78.3 cm)
vertical axis: 43 5/16 in. (110 cm)
framed: 33 7/8 × 34 1/8 in. (86 × 86.7 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of the artist to the Collection Société Anonyme

Accession Number

1942.355

Culture
Period

20th century

Classification
Disclaimer

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.

Bibliography
  • Ketevan Kintsurashvili, David Kakabadzé: Georgian Modern Artist and Inventor (New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2013), 134
  • François Morellet et al., Les Cahiers du Musée National d'Art Moderne: hiver 2010/printemps 2011 (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 2011), 87, ill
  • Daniel Soutif, "Fox Trot et Boogie Woogie," Télérama hors série: Piet Mondrian au centre pompidou (2010), 84, ill
  • Daniel Soutif et al., The Jazz Century: Art, Cinema, Music and Photography from Picasso to Basquait (Milan: Skira, 2009), ill
  • Ruth L. Bohan et al., The Société Anonyme: Modernism for America, ed. Jennifer Gross, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2006), 113, fig. 20
  • Robert L. Herbert, Eleanor S. Apter, and Elise K. Kenney, The Société Anonyme and the Dreier Bequest at Yale University: A Catalogue Raisonné (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1984), 484, no. 506, ill
  • Nancy Troy, Mondrian and Neo-Plasticism in America, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1979), 47–48, no. 36
  • Frank Elgar, Mondrian, exh. cat. (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1968), 243, no. 407
  • Mondrian, exh. cat. (The Hague: Kunstmuseum Den Haag, 1955), no. 120
  • Collection of the Société Anonyme: Museum of Modern Art 1920 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1950), 65
  • Catalog of an International Exhibition Illustrating the Most Recent Development in Abstract Art, exh. cat. (Buffalo: Société Anonyme, 1931), 11, no. 48
  • Katherine S. Dreier, The International Exhibition of Modern Art, exh. cat. (New York: Anderson Galleries, 1927), 4, 15, no. 68
  • Katherine S. Dreier, Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Modern Art Assembled by the Societe Anonyme, exh. cat. (New York: Brooklyn Museum of Art, 1926),
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

abstract (general art genre)

Subject

shapes

Inscriptions

Inscribed verso on stretcher, "Top/accrocher lozen-/giguement/ ' (diagram of lozenge) P. Mondrian/Fox-/A-"

Signed

Signed l.l. "P.M. '30"

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