Homage to Mondrian / Prosthetic Telepathy

Urban Legend #39 Daniel Stuelpnagel acrylic on canvas [2009]
Urban Legend #39
Daniel Stuelpnagel
acrylic on canvas [2009]
This 28-inch square is in a way the culmination of my early geometric abstractions, numbering more than 350 paintings in a related style, because I began by working after Mondrian, and this is certainly an effusive homage to his best-known works.

Remarkable for the span of twenty years I took to bring this into focus, and also for the kaleidoscopic deconstruction and reconstruction of the form into numerous small compositions interspersed with ghostly grayscale vignettes.

Many of the adjacent squares are divided by super-fine half-millimeter paint lines resulting from the exceedingly careful application and removal of painter’s tape, a basic compositional tool that was newly available when Mondrian began to make use of it in creating his distinctive works, which have since become ubiquitous designs in everything from wallpaper to shower curtains to the facades of art supply stores.

His originals are mainstays of many museum collections of Modern art, and along with Kandinsky, Severini and a handful of others, Mondrian’s influential works not only form the foundation of 20th-century geometric abstraction, but also, along with the later works of Rauschenberg and Vasarely, provide an early premonition of the internet age through a pixelated grid of insight into the telepathic prosthesis of technology that was to come.

What is also kind of funny is that I raced through this 39th piece in the Urban Legends series without even recognizing it at the time for what it was, a pivotal moment in a twenty-year odyssey, and then continued the series a couple of years ago for another twenty-five pieces before taking a hiatus; so ultimately it was about that quest but the foundational pursuit was such a profoundly fertile source of inspiration and energy that it continued to generate new explorations long past the point of achieving this particular milestone.