Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Piet Mondrian and the Religion of Peace.


Years ago I corresponded with a woman who was completing her doctoral thesis on Piet Mondrian. We'd meet occasionally in Manhattan, visit art museums and libraries, do romantic things that young students do. We had a nice casual relationship. I have fond memories of Mondrian.

These days I correspond with a lady who has a friend finishing her doctoral thesis on Nietzche. Our relationship is a bit stranded on the rocks. We meet for lunch, we visit art museums and libraries, do romantic things that a couple of old people can barely manage if my back isn't too painful. And I grit my teeth hearing about her friend who tells her that I'm a fascist bigot who knows nothing. Her friend knows. She knows all about Islam and it is a religion of peace. I'm a religious Nazi.

Mondrian escaped from the Nazi invasion of Europe and fled to Manhattan. One day he looked out his hotel window and saw the cars on the streets below. He eventually painted the scene as he liked it. It's called "Broadway Boogie Woogie." I like it.

Any day these days one can walk down a street in Kansas and see a lady wearing a tee-shirt or carrying a purse with the motifs originally designed by Mondrian. Walmart has racks of Mondrian design dresses. Mondrian's work has become wall paper. It's pretty.

My old friend, if she cares anymore, would likely be upset that her post-grad efforts are now the subject of conversation of fat ladies in Kansas at Walmart. She wasn't the type at the time back then to be a snob, but I think she'd still find it unhappy that her prized artist has become an unseen part of Middle America's polyestre set.

My friend looked at Mondrian's work and said "Doctoral thesis." The world looked at Mondrian's paintings and said "Wall paper."

My friend's friend looks at Islam and says: "Religion of Peace! For you, blah, blah, blah, the essence, blah blah, blah, is ungraspable! You are a bigot! Nietzche blah, blah, blah...."

There's more to be said for Mondrian than that his work is ultimately wall paper. I knew someone who wrote a doctoral thesis claiming great things for him. So who is right? Is my friend's thesis right that he is a significant artist? Or is the world at large right in saying he made designs that others successfuly turned into smocks for fat ladies?

When one strips away all the art jargon and presents the works of Mondrian to the world, the result is wall paper. When we strip away all the crap we hear and read about Islam, the resulting picture is one of murder and slavery and horror.

Those who study Islam and know it deeply and academically can go on for years about it's high significance. They are experts. They know. To those of us in Kansas, Islam looks like one big ugly mess. Who is right?

7 comments:

Stogie said...

"When one strips away all the art jargon and presents the works of Mondrian to the world, the result is wall paper. When we strip away all the crap we hear and read about Islam, the resulting picture is one of murder and slavery and horror."

EXCELLENT post. Interesting and informative about Mondrian, a great metaphor for how different people view Islam.

Your last sentence above is truth boiled down to its essence. Well done! You kick ass with this post, Dag.

CD 'Bar' Baric said...

Piet Mondrian - I am wondering when he plans to finish the above painting.

The problem I would have with hanging such a painting in my livingroom is I would be endlessly tempted to fill in some gaps, perhaps add a few more lines, maybe put a face in one of the little windows.

Is that wrong?

What do I know about art?

CD 'Bar' Baric

truepeers said...

Well, I generally think, trust first impressions: they're mostly right, save time. I'm trying to remember my first impressions of Islam. Like my first impressions of any strange religion, it was probably along the lines of WTF? So that's no help.

No, the only intrepretations that really matter are those of Muslims themselves, both the mainstream, and those committed, in good faith, to pursuing the faith's future possibilities. THe western liberal elite have been mostly wrong on pretty much everything for a long time now (since at least WWI). Clearly, they don't trust their first impressions. ANd so they get trapped in doctoral dissertations.

maccusgermanis said...

Can wallpaper subvert intrinsic importance of art? The example you give displays a thorough, if not complete, acceptance of Mondrian's art by all classes. No amount of wallpaper can cover that islam is intrinsically violent.

Nilk said...

The beauty of art is that it can be both doctoral thesis and wallpaper. I like your idea of drawing a face in the window, CD. It's very engaging and inclusive.

Islam is neither, hence it cannot be art.

Thank you all for making me think beyond my horizons.

dag said...

Just in case anyone was still wondering, no, I am not a rocket scientist. I'm really a Humanities guy. But I do have a deep respect for the humanity of science, being not only a fan of Fransis Bacon and Richard Feynman and Steven Dutch, as long-time readers here will know, but I also have some very cool illustrations from Magnus, Robot Fighter that I'll post if ever the occasion arises. Just thought I'd clear that up in case anyone tried to spring any trick questions on me.

callieischatty said...

I got chills when I saw that image.

I love Mondrian and just took my teenage daughter to nyc to see it.