President Obama visits Mondrian

President Obama ends NSS 2014 with visit to Victory Boogie Woogie

During the Nuclear Security Summit 2014 (NSS) in The Hague, President Barack Obama paid a visit to the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. The president responded with enthusiasm at the sight of the splendid Art Deco building which dates back to 1935, one of the finest museumbuildings in the Europe. Together with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Museum Director Benno Tempel and Mayor of The Hague Jozias van Aartsen, President Obama admired Mondrian’s final painting: Victory Boogie Woogie (1944), an ode to the City of New York, to jazz and to freedom. ‘This is a fabulous one’, said President Obama. The president really enjoyed his brief visit, saying ‘You have a beautiful museum and I hope to come back with the family’.

De president visited the exhibition Mondrian & De Stijl. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag owns the largest collection of work by Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) in the world. President Obama was especially interested in the early works of Mondrian, which in combination with his later works show the development of the artist from figurative painter to one of the world’s most influential abstract artists. Besides Victory Boogie Woogie, he also stopped to admire Mondrian’s Mill in Sunlight and Trees by the Gein at Moonrise. Piet Mondrian was fascinated by American jazz, particularly boogie-woogie. Victory Boogie Woogie was inspired by the dynamics of the City of New York and the rhythms of the boogie-woogie music to which loved to dance.

Director Benno Tempel: ‘The USA gave shelter to Mondrian during the Second World War and Mondrian gave modern art to America. Victory Boogie Woogie, that can be seen as a symbol of the belief in freedom, became a hugely important painting, not only for a whole generation of artists, but also for all lovers of abstract art. The most prominent post-war American artists – Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko – reflected on the work of Mondrian. He was the starting point for all of them. It was very special to us that the President of the United States visited this particular painting which played such a significant role in the history of American art.’