Dr. Marty Bax, art historian, international expert on the work of Piet Mondrian, and on Modern Art & Western Esotericism; Expert provenance researcher on the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) in the Netherlands for the Claims Conference-World Jewish Restitution Organization Looted Art and Cultural Property Initiative

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07 March 2013

'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 him late 1911-early 1912.

Already in 1993-1994, as 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 which 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 reflexive way. ‘Piet, now you see him, now you don’t’, was the jokey description of him at gallery openings in Paris.

Yesterday, on 7 March 2013, the birthday of Mondrian, the website www.mondriaan.nl was launched. Posthumously Mondrian received an impressive and modern birthday present. In another way Mondrian himself celebrated his birthday on 7 March 1908 by treating himself to the 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.