History And Context
Transcendentally spare and serene, Painting No. 9 is one of the paintings begun in London and perhaps completed or retouched in New York, as the double date implies. The network of thin horizontals and verticals is carefully balanced, thus maintaining an overall unity. The ample white areas can be read as either flat surface or limitless space, and the colors, placed near the edge, draw the eye away from the center. As a result, the image hovers, as though weightless, in timeless silence or suspended energy. Katherine Dreier might have been contemplating this painting when she wrote in 1950: “Mondrian came to the philosophical conclusion that ALL IS SPACE.”
Mondrian believed that colors expressed spiritual light as well as emotion. Painting No. 9 combines yellow (in Mondrian’s view an “inward” or spiritual color) with four small red bars (red being “outward” or worldly).