Art: Pursuit of the Square

In the photographs that survive from his last years, Piet Mondrian's own head began to verge on geometrical abstraction. The domed skull had its remaining hair brushed flat, each strand meticulously parallel to its neighbor; the two neat creases on the pale forehead; the paired circles of his spectacle frames, and the thin mouth joined with utmost precision to his beak of a nose by two engraved lines. It was the face of no compromise—austere and possessed by a forbidding moral rectitude. No artist ever looked more like his own work.

Mondrian was one...

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