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Exhibition: the address book of Piet Mondrian

In January 2012 the RKD acquired the archive of Piet Mondrian (1872-1944).
This unique personal archive contains correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, a horoscope and other personal documents belonging to the artist, including a loose-leaf address book. The addresses in this document reverse the myth of Mondrian as a hermit who lived only for his work.
The twelve pages on display in our vitrine show that Mondrian was in fact in touch with a wide network of prominent (as well as some less well-known) artists, collectors, museum directors, art historians and friends. Among the names featuring on the pages of the address book are those of fellow artists Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Alexander Calder, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Fernand Léger. The Dutch art world is equally well represented with names such as Charley Toorop, Cesar Domela, Peter Alma, Rob van ’t Hoff, Adriaan Lubbers and Gerard Hordijk.

The address book is displayed alongside portrait photographs, taken from our own archives and collections, of a substantial number of the people mentioned in the document. Thus there are photographs from, for example, the archive of Theo and Nelly van Doesburg, that of Herbert Henkels as well as from the RKD’s collection of photographic documentation relating to Mondrian.

The pages in the vitrine are reproductions of the originals. One of the original pages can currently be seen in the exhibition Alexander Calder. The Great Discovery at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague (open until 28 May). Later this year, the Gemeentemuseum and the RKD will launch a joint website dedicated to the life and work of Piet Mondrian. The website is part of a collaborative project between the two institutions to develop a knowledge centre about Piet Mondrian and De Stijl.

The acquisition of the Piet Mondrian archive would not have been possible without support from the Mondrian Foundation, the Prince Bernhard Cultural Fund and the SNS REAAL Fund. We would like to thank these organisations for their generous contributions.

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