A key figure in the international avant-garde, Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) was at once an extraordinary painter and art theoretician whose influence is as profound today as it ever was. For Mondrian, "the emotion of beauty is always hindered by particular appearance of an 'object'; the object must therefore be abstracted from any figurative representation." After coining the term "Neo-plasticism", he pursued painting composed only of the most fundamental aspects of primary color (red, yellow, blue) against a grid of black vertical and horizontal lines and a white base background. Mondrian's vision was that this essential painting would help to achieve a society in which art as such has no place, but rather exists for the total realization of 'beauty'.
To contemporaries, Mondrian represented an artist not only of absolute modernity, but also of great integrity. Today, he remains one of the most distinctive practitioners in all of modern art, the star of exhibitions around the world, and an abiding inspiration for fashion, art, architecture, and design, from White Stripes album covers to Yves Saint Laurent dresses.