Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” — Pablo Picasso

Broadway Boogie Woogie … by Mondrian

. . . . . . . New York City’s Museum of Modern Art holds the painting “Broadway Boogie Woogie” by Mondrian. Mondrian moved to New York in 1940, and in 1943 completed this abstract masterwork. It is the product of three years’ living and breathing the mean streets and traffic exhaust of the Big Apple, and is informed by the cultural events that Mondrian surely took in. Let’s explore possible alternative meanings, shall we?

Possible Interpretation #1

. . . . . . . This is a city map. New York’s skyscrapers are the big blocks lining the square-dotted roads. The tiny blocks embedded in the yellow lines are taxis, red and blue, colors whose significance we can only guess at.

Possible Interpretation #2

. . . . . . . This is a sheet of music. The tiny blocks represent music notes, and the larger blocks are time signatures and the like.

Possible Interpretation #3

. . . . . . . The tiny blocks are people in line-ups to see a Broadway show. The big blocks are fat men, or important men, or ushers or security guards.


. . . . . . . The painting may not mean any of these things. But I think it likeliest it is a combination of some of the possibilities listed herein. “Broadway Boogie Woogie” is meant to get you, the viewer, thinking about the stage and the lighted possibilities on it. It is a reminder of all the good times the theater-goer has had in attending performances put on for him and him alone. Yet, there is an off-Broadway and an off-off-Broadway, and these places may deserve their own work, perhaps not at Mondrian’s level, but perhaps someone else will be challenged to produce it. Good luck with that.


13 thoughts on “Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie

    1. Reasonable assertion, but by that logic you could extend it to say you hate art titles, which can be very meaningful in deciphering the meaning of the art. The statement just offers further elucidation, although it does foreclose on certain avenues of meaning by pointing you in one certain direction.

      1. I don’t see that extension at all. A title is part of the work.

        I’ve written my fair share of artist statements and read even more. I don’t want to tell anyone what to think about what I create. As an artist, I believe the work should speak for itself, and that each viewer or reader takes from it what they both bring and need. You should not tell them how to see it or predispose them to see it in a certain way–good art has multiple meanings and dimensions. I often get responses that make me see what I’ve done in a completely different light. That means I’ve done a good job.

        1. What kind of artwork do you do? Are you a painter? I have a special fondness for and weak spot about airbrushed art. Technological art interests me greatly.

          1. I’m not a technological artist. I like to work with my hands. You can look through the blog posts–both my blog partner Nina and I do art.

            1. I’ll check out your blog in greater detail and leave you my opinions. I’ve been told I have a good eye for things and I’m honest. I’m also lavish with my praise when I like things. I think it’s important to balance objectivity with good praise: people need to be supported, but you can’t be blowing hot steam up their ass.

              This objectivity can be seen most clearly when we are distant friends with someone. Good feelings — warm feelings — soften the impact of harsh words. And when we really like something!!! FIREWORKS!

              1. I’d be interested to hear what you think but no need to go overboard. I know it’s not great art. I’m no Van Gogh. And I’m almost 70–I’ve learned not to let others’ opinions keep me from doing what I want to do. After all, I dislike much of what critics gush over–all gimmick and trend. I worked in the fashion industry–I know all about what sells.

    1. I will try to do more entries on art, then. As a confident dilettante, I combine the worst of two worlds: excessive surety in my own assessments, and glancing familiarity with the world I am entering. But there is value in being an amateur. It gives one a fresh eye with which to view material. That said, I’ll try to do more art entries. When I do, give me your honest opinions as to whether I’m off-base or on target. I’m curious as to whether I hit the mark or not.

    1. But there must be firm limits, else we descend into madness. Is going to the bathroom a form of art? Is shouting at our spouse a form of art? The highest form of art is writing, which eclipses all the other arts like Jupiter does the planets of our solar system. It is this eclipsing which highlights the need for writing to be gentle and not dominant against the other mediums.

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