Mondrian’s Atelier and the 場 (ba) Principle

Mondrian's AtelierIn this precis of Mondrian’s work, amongst the paintings is an image of this most personal creation; his atelier. A useful word to think about; an artist or designer’s studio or workshop, from the middle french astelier (woodpile). Images of this place are preserved: it has been reconstructed as well. With the reconstruction perhaps a little neater than the original – no loose parts there. This brings to mind my own virtual reconstruction of Utzon’s studio – with a similar result. The reconstruction is interesting, but sterile. It historicises its subject; you can’t inhabit it. And without an inhabitant it cannot be a 場 (ba).

Consider: if I had all the resources in the world, and could create a perfect reconstruction of Mondrian’s atelier in which to work, I would not want to. Nor Utzon’s, Hundertwasser’s, Tufte’s. They all produce wonderful work, and their studios are surely part of the process of its production; but these things are intensely personal. Once again: it’s not the result, it’s the principles that matter.

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