Within mathematics, geometry is concerned with shape and size, the positioning of figures and properties of space. This mathematical relationship to form was translated into art and became popular in the early 20th century. Geometric artists generally created compositions using non-objective forms such as squares, lines or circles, in bold and distinct colours, and placed them within non-illusionistic space.
Marion Jones creates bright and bold compositions through her interest in texture, layering and geometric forms. Jones expertly plays with the surface of the canvas by painting directly onto unprimed canvas and by overlapping geometric forms at different angles, creating ‘“trapdoors” to lower levels. The Green One II (2019) is a mixed media painting where Jones has allowed the paint to drip and run across the painting, and small patches of spray paint allow the shapes and colour to move in an almost ephemeral way.
Olivia Peake creates geometric paintings that are inspired by architecture. Her use of geometric forms and technique of cutting and layering make her works appear three dimensional. Her use of light and fragmented shapes offers the viewer a window into another world, hidden behind the canvas. Combined with the soft pastel colours, her works are both soothing and visually intriguing.
Geometric shapes and patterns are popular in Islamic art which is usually non-figurative and relies on repeated geometric forms. Islamic art often uses geometric shapes to portray the meaning and essence of things, rather than just their physical form. This notion can be seen as influencing the development of Western interests in geometric form, which sought to reject the illusionistic practices of the past.
Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935) was a Russian painter and theorist who was hugely influential on the development of modern art. His early experiments lead him to invent suprematism, which was a bold visual language of abstract geometric forms and stark colours. His painting Black Square (1915) was extremely radical at the time and is now considered one of the defining works of Modernism.
Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) was a Dutch painter whose style developed through naturalism, pointillism and Cubism. Geometric abstraction is often considered the logical conclusion of Cubism, which had drastically fragmented form and shape. Inspired by Georges Braques and Pablo Picasso, Mondrian moved to Paris where he founded the De Stijl group, which was based on abstraction and simplification.
His works such as Composition No. 10 (1939-1942) exemplifies his radical yet classical construction of horizontal and vertical lines. As Mondrian wrote, ‘constructed with awareness, but not with calculation, led by high intuition, and brought to harmony and rhythm’.