Character is Destiny
- Published: Thursday, 12 September 2013 06:22
Marty Bax – The Netherlands
[This article is based on a talk given on March 7, 2013 one day after the national website on Piet Mondrian was launched. The author had the honor to talk about a recently acquired document from the Mondrian Archive at the Netherlands Institute of Art History: Mondrian’s Horoscope. The article has been slightly edited for style and coherence]
‘Character is Destiny’ - Piet Mondrian and his Horoscope
Recently the Netherlands Institute for Art History acquired the Harry Holtzman Estate on Piet Mondrian. Among the very few documents Mondrian preserved until his death is an interesting one: the horoscope Mondrian had drawn for himself late 1911-early 1912.
Already in 1993-1994 when I was working on the exhibition, “Piet Mondrian 1892-1914, The Amsterdam Years” in the Amsterdam City Archives, now housed in the building designed by Mondrian’s co-theosophist Karel de Bazel, I had several talks with my colleague Robert Welsh about the horoscope. I wondered what insights Mondrian had drawn from it, concerning his personality and his career. Judging from the vast network I uncovered during my investigations, it had become clear that Mondrian was not the stiff, introverted man he has always been judged to be. A better characterization would be: a solitary person among his fellow people, someone who weaved in and out of social circles in a receptive and playful, but at the same time reserved, independent and reflective way. ‘Piet, now you see him, now you don’t’, was the jokey description of him at gallery openings in Paris.
On 7 March 2013, the birthday of Mondrian, the website www.mondriaan.nl was launched. Posthumously Mondrian received an impressive and modern birthday present. Mondrian himself celebrated his birthday on 7 March 1908 by treating himself to a lecture Rudolf Steiner gave in Amsterdam. He kept the Dutch transcription of Steiner’s lectures all his life, together with his horoscope. Apparently they meant much to him.