In 1926, Mondrian was asked to design the interior of the Damenzimmer (ladies’ salon) in the house of the Dresden art collector Ida Bienert, a driving force for modernism in the city. Although the commission was never realized, the artist’s visionary design is preserved in this master plan, which combines the floor layout, wall sections, and ceiling view. To produce the plan, Mondrian extended the principles of Neo-Plasticism—an aesthetic theory that eschewed naturalistic representation in favor of straight lines, rectangular shapes, and primary colors—into the three-dimensional interior space. The resultant design is composed of clearly outlined and meticulously arranged fields of color. Mondrian attached great importance to the furnishings of the room, which were incorporated into the plan and strongly stylized.
Austeja Mackelaite, Annette and Oscar de la Renta Assistant Curator of Drawings and Prints
Ida Bienert was a driving force for modernism in Dresden in the early twentieth century. Her marriage to Erwin Bienert, a member of a wealthy family of mill operators, allowed her to support young artists and engage in social causes. In 1906, Bienert established the first public library in Saxony. Her social circle included Bauhaus artists, such Walter Gropius and Paul Klee, as well as important German and Austrian expressionists, such as Oskar Kokoschka and Otto Dix, whose works are on view elsewhere in this exhibition.
Bienert commissioned Piet Mondrian to design an interior for one of the rooms in her family’s Dresden home in 1926. Using the design principles of Neo-Plasticism, Mondrian created a plan composed of meticulously rendered rectangular shapes in primary colors. He even incorporated references to furniture—such as the white oval, meant to represent a table, in the center of the plan. It seems that the artist shared Bienert’s interest in aesthetically balanced and pleasing interior spaces. He wrote that for an aesthetic person, [I quote] “a house or a room that is consistent with his nature are as necessary as food and drink, [because] for him the aesthetic is equivalent in value to the material.”
Ultimately, however, the design was never implemented—most likely due to logistical and financial reasons. As the parameters of Mondrian’s plan do not fully correspond to the actual layout of the room, unanswered questions remain about the practical implementation of the artist’s vision.