Nov 01, 1997 01:42 PM
by Thoa Tran
Did Mondrian form his theory of rhythm during the time of his early
abstract art, or during the time of his geometric compositions of later
You can find what Mondrian is referring to (no-time, non-repetition) in
ideas older than the Secret Doctrine, in Hinduism and Buddhism. In fact,
it's pretty basic Yoga. As far as I can see, there are no direct
references to rhythm indexed in the major works by Blavatsky that we have.
However, the idea of rhythm expressed by Mondrian in your quote is not
rhythm as we generally know it, but rhythm in terms of finding the
stillness of equilibrium to liberate ourselves from Maya. When the Secret
Doctrine discusses about Pralaya, Laya centers, cycles, and illusion, there
are plenty of ideas from which to build such a theory. In the Stanzas of
the Secret Doctrine, you can see references to time and space being
illusion, and how we evolve to free ourselves from Maya. From that, you
can see where Alice Bailey got her ideas about rhythm. For example, in
Yogic and Buddhic meditation, the purpose is to still the vibrations of the
senses, the emotions, and the lower mind. By doing that, you can find the
Laya center, and slip through to experience the higher nature.
Mondrian was trying to express that in terms of art. I think that is what
he meant by "point of perfect balance and of equilibrium." Having rhythm
in a "no-time and non-repetition basis" is holding the stillness. Thus, he
was creating symbols of Laya centers in his art and was quite Yogic in his
approach to art, whether he knew it or not.
Here are some references you might want to look at:
An Art of Our Own (The Spiritual in Twentieth Century Art)
by Roger Lipsey, Shambhala Publications, Inc., ISBN 0-87773-496-8 (pbk.)
The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting, 1890-1985
by Maurice Tuchmann, Abbeville Press Publishers, ISBN 0-7892-0056-2
We'll be very interested in reading the final paper if you're willing to
publish it. Have a great one.
Thoa and Mark :o)
>I am writing Ph. D thesis about Piet Mondrian (Dutch painter 1872-1944),
>especially about his theory of rhythm, at Melbourne University.
>He is famous for a theosophist painter and was very much influenced by
>theosophist writings, for example, Mme Bravatsky, J. Krishnamurti, M. H.
>J. Schoenmaekers (Dutch philosopher and theosophist) and others.
>I am tracing Mondrian's theory of rhythm. It is quite unusual one. He
>contested that rhythm should occur on no-time and non-repetition basis
>and it should be attained by the equilibrated point of two extreme
>So far the phrase I have encounter among theosophist writings concerning
>rhythm is Alice A. Bailey's in her book A Treatise on Cosmic Fire (Lucis
>Publishing Company, New York, 1925, p. 158): "Rhythm, or the attainment
>of the point of perfect balance and of equilibrium."
>This concept is quite similar to Mondrian's, but Mondrian wrote about
>his theory of art and rhythm from 1917. So he obviously did not read
>Bailey's book. Then there is a question: from where he got the idea of
>If the theory of rhythm is quite common among theosophist, where can we
>find the similar phrases in Mme Bravatsky's or J. Krishnamurti's
>writings (or any theosophical writing before 1917) as we see above in
>If someone knows this resources about rhythm in writings of those above
>mentioned, please let me know. I am living Melbourne City (originally
>from Osaka Japan), so I can go to the library of Melbourne Theosophy
>Society and reference the resources.
>Thank you for your attention.
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