“This research is far from over,” says Foundation Beyeler’s art curator Ulf Küster.
Swiss skincare brand La Prairie collaborates with Foundation Beyeler, Switzerland’s most visited art museum, to conserve four contemporary works of well-known Dutch artist Piet Mondrian.
The 20th-century artist rose to fame with his abstract work consisting of blocks of primary colors in contrast with white sand inside grids of black borders.
“It’s not only to ensure that the work of Mondrian is conserved for future generations, but it also allows art historians and the greater public at large to understand better this prominent figure of the 20th century that is Piet Mondrian,” La Prairie says in a digital press event.
They add that the collaboration is in line with their mission of “celebrating timeless beauty.”
In fact, the 43-year-old brand has had a connection with contemporary art since its founding. The shade of blue La Prairie uses in its branding and packaging was created by French-American sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle.
In La Prairie’s Art Journal, they share that Saint Phalle was chosen out of other contemporary artists because she is an explorer, pioneer, and values adventure—which they say embodies the same spirit their brand carries.
The conservation project
Titled “The Piet Mondrian Conservation Project,” the initiative is headed by the museum’s Art Curator Ulf Küster and Chief Conservator Markus Gross.
According to the art experts, although Mondrian’s works seemed simple, there’s meaning in every brushstroke and in the angle of each line. “Works by a master like Piet Mondrian hide a lot in the details. A line is not simply a line; a color field is not a flat color field,” says Gross, who was present at the digital launch with Küster. “There is much more behind it.”
On the technical side, the research team discovered that although they initially thought that Mondrian completed each painting’s composition in a short period, they were proved otherwise by utilizing more advanced tools.
“The black lines which seem very clear and defined are also overpainted and corrected several times. So we [saw] different layers, and these were not visible before because it’s not obvious in the microscope,” Gross shares.
It was only with “high magnification analysis” that they concluded that Mondrian worked out many more layers to achieve the “perfect compositions.”
“This research is far from over,” Küster admits when asked about his most significant findings during the conservation project that’s been going on for two years now. However, the journey has been fulfilling as the team agrees that the more they get “involved with Mondrian,” the more they become fascinated with his works.
Banner photo from @mondrian_archive on Instagram.