By 1908, the Dutch avant-garde was gathering every summer in Domburg, a small resort in Zeeland, on the coast of the North Sea. Delighted to capture the light of the landscape, the young painters enthusiastically experimented with color and form, slowly rejecting realism and turning instead to the limitless potential of modern art.
Among the group was the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. Today, Mondrian is mostly known for his highly geometric abstract artworks, which were limited to straight horizontal and vertical lines and basic primary colors, lacking subject and even being neutrally titled Composition. However, the Dutchman wasn’t born an abstract painter, he became one.
Those summers spent at Domburg ended up being a turning point for Mondrian, giving him the freedom to continue playing with different painting styles, including pointillism and Fauvism. Dune Landscape, also painted during a summer at Domburg, is a serene landscape with the lavender hue of the sinuous sand dunes being emphasized by the green-blue grass. On the tilted horizon line we can see the water of the North Sea, with two sailboats in the distance. Mondrian also achieved an interesting lined texture for the sky and the dunes.
What stands out is not only the peacefulness that the landscape conveys through the use of blues and violet, but also the efficiency of the diagonal lines. If you keep in mind Mondrian’s extremely static later artworks, you see how much the diagonals matter. They offer more depth to the landscape and the illusion of movement, suggesting waves, wind and the impermanence of the ever-changing dunes.
The painting, modern in its bold choice of color and in the abstract rendering of the dunes, represented a transitional period for Mondrian, as he further embraced abstractionism.