Piet Mondrian, Self Portrait, c.1900
Joel Bass, fine artist, builder and and instructor at Art Center College of Design, gave an assignment that lasted the better part of a semester: take a sheet of black cover stock, trim out a series of ¼” wide strips, and create a grid of 5-7 rectilinear shapes, such that no one intersection or space becomes more important than another. It sounds like a simple proposition, but this is difficult to achieve.
We’re all familiar with Piet Mondrian’s iconic paintings based on a similar premise. His linear compositions have become a part of American culture, whether as the modular wall on Ray and Charles Eames’ Case Study House No. 8, or the expression of Pop Culture painted by Mick Haggerty in Mickey Mondrian.
Mick Haggerty, Mickey Mondrian, 1976
Mondrian, Dutch, was born into a Calvanist society in the late 19th Century. His uncle was a commercial painter; his father an amateur. His early work reflected the tradition inherent in his surroundings. But when Mondrian was introduced to meditation and Theosophy in 1909, he began to pare down and clarify his point of view.
Theosophy held that horizontals represented femininity and worldliness. Vertical lines were the symbol of masculinity and spirituality. Mondrian’s traditional landscapes gave way to stylized trees with strong vertical and horizontal themes. Eventually the trees would disappear, allowing Mondrian to focus solely on the balance of vertical, horizontal, space and tone. The well considered balance, the honesty of intent, the sum total of Mondrian’s experience would create compositions of enduring resonance.
Piet Mondrian, Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow, 1930
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Wine, like art, takes many forms. There is much enjoyment in the exploration of highly detailed aromas and flavors. But there is also pleasure to be had in wine that is crafted with fewer elements, where balance and proportion cannot hide behind a veil of complexity. The 2007 Franck Millet Sancerre, Insolite falls into the second category. This Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley is a pale greenish gold, with a nose of Pippin apple, lemons and lime zest. An initial hit of Meyer lemon and lime folds in on the mid-palate, yielding a fantastic note of sea salt and a long, mouth-watering finish. As the wine opens up, a hint of slate enters the mix. My wife Sloane and I like to pair this with The Barefoot Contessa’s Chicken Picatta (an extremely easy recipe). The experience is sublime.