Mondrian: Flowers is an album of some fifty-odd images of flowers—single stems mostly, plus a few bouquets—that the inventor of Neoplastic painting executed both before and for a while after he began his more than twenty years of total abstraction. It marks the first gathering of these flower images, which Mondrian never showed in public and which, indeed, were done, as he said, to earn the money that his abstract paintings could not. Into the essay which accompanies the pictures, the poet David Shapiro, who conceived the collection, admits this paraphrase of a Mondrian letter of 1921: “Mondrian tells a friend that he has rendered commissions for flowers ‘(naturalistic)’ for 100 francs, and that if this kind of success continues he will stop painting!” This would suggest that Mondrian dismissed these works. Shapiro’s essay, however, is an attempt to give a special, even a primary place to these...


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