Piet Mondrian and Stained Glass

Here’s an interesting story from our our colleague, Ebel Rispens, who lives in Groningen in The Netherlands.

It’s in response to our recent post about sunlight and stained glass design.

Ebel writes:

It’s a fact that Piet Mondrian never ever made or designed a stained glass window.

And do you know why?

He refused to have anything to do with stained glass because he thought it was one of the ugliest things that anyone could do with colours

Well, I am sure we’ve all seen some stained glass windows which make us wish that Thomas Cromwell were alive today.

And I am also sure it’s sometimes fun to make provocative and witty remarks.

Yet I only need to walk around some of the art on display in London’s Tate Modern to remind myself why we are glad to practice a craft.

As with mainstream art, so with the craft of stained glass: it’s often the content and the design which appear to transcend rational appraisal, and – worse – simply become the victim of fashion.

But at least there are clear standards about whether a stained glass window has been skilfully painted and assembled.

At least the making is subject to objective scrutiny and judgment.

And at least this process of making something well is something which demands to be enjoyed for its own sake – even when it happens to be your livelihood.

3 thoughts on “Piet Mondrian and Stained Glass

  1. Stephen,

    Many thanks as always for your inspirational notes. Apologies for lapse in correspondence – it’s been a frantic year and I will update and ask a silver stain query in due course.

    I had to smile when reading that Piet Mondrian did not care for stained glass. My wife Susan works in The Hague, and I have therefore seen a lot of Mondrian’s earlier work … it’s very dark. He only seemed to discover abstract design and the use of bright primary colours when he went to the USA in the 1940’s but went and died soon afterwards.

    I’ve made a number of stained glass mirrors over the years including one titled ‘Mondrian Reflections’ – I had no idea that he wouldn’t have approved of mixing glass and colour!

    Best regards,

  2. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your comment. I’ll look forward to getting your question on silver stain, which we’ll do out best to answer on the silver stain post here.

    Our own “Mondrian” window – well, really, it’s the Fibonacci window (with loads of stain on it) is being assembled as I write.

    All the best,

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