RKD Netherland Institute for art History
A recently discovered photograph of the 1925 Mondrian – Man Ray exhibition at the Dresden gallery Kunstausstellung Kühl & Kühn (fig. 1) has enabled Wietse Coppes, curator at the RKD – Netherlands Institute of Art History, to identify a painting by Piet Mondrian that was previously known only from an inventory. The photograph was found in the archive of Mondrian expert Joop M. Joosten (*1926) which recently came to the RKD.
The painting is described in the inventory as Komposition XIV, 1922, measuring 62 x 62 cm, but without an image. It was included in the 1998 catalogue raisonné of Mondrian’s work solely on the basis of this information. The exhibition photograph shows us the actual painting for the first time; it can be seen to the left of the doorway.
This also solves a second problem which concerns another unidentified painting in the same catalogue raisonné, in this case a work which was, interestingly, only known through a reproduction in Mondrian’s estate (fig. 2). Thanks to the photograph of the gallery Kunstausstellung Kühl & Kühn, it was possible to match the work mentioned in the inventory to the reproduction. Regrettably Komposition XIV was lost during the Second World War. For this reason and because we only have black and white photographs, the colour scheme of the painting can no longer be established.
Fig. 1 Anonymous photographer, Installation view of the Mondrian – Man Ray exhibition at Kunstausstellung Kühl & Kühn, Dresden 1925. Joop M. Joosten Archive, RKD - Netherlands Institute for Art History
Fig. 2 Anonymous photographer, Reproduction of the painting Komposition XIV by Piet Mondrian, 1922. Photograph from Piet Mondrian’s estate. © Mondrian/Holtzman Trust 2017
This autumn the RKD will be launching a complete digital catalogue of Mondrian’s work. The Piet Mondrian Digital Catalogue Raisonné comprises all of the artist’s 1200 or so paintings, drawings, watercolours, (interior) designs as well as furniture. The online publication adds a few dozen newly discovered works to the 1998 catalogue of Robert P. Welsh and Joop M. Joosten, making it the most up-to-date survey of research into Mondrian’s work. The information will also include the solved mystery of Komposition XIV.