(select images and write-ups from the former Tremaine Collection)
Piet Mondrian | Victory Boogie Woogie | 1942-44
Oil and scotch tape on canvas. 50in x 50in.
Piet Mondrian's final, unfinished work acquired by Emily Tremaine from Valentine Dudensing for $8,000, sold to Si Newhouse, Jr. in 1988 for $11M, and sold in 1998 to Dutch government for $40M to commemorate the introduction of the Euro currency. Currently on display at Gemeentemuseum in The Hague.
As one of the more significant pieces in the Tremaine Collection, the diamond shape served as inspiration for the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation logo.
From the Wadsworth Atheneum Exhibition Catalogue:
“This history of the Tremaine painting goes back to before June 1942, when Mondrian began to make compositional sketches. Later that year, while working on the related but more traditional square painting Broadway Boogie Woogie, now in the Museum of Modern Art, he altered the diamond-shaped Victory, expanding some lines into independent planes and breaking up others with multicolored facets…
Several days before his death, Mondrian called Charmion von Wiegand and Sidney Janis to his studio and, after seeing the finished picture completely painted and without any applied tapes. Charmion exclaimed “How victorious!” Mondrian replied, “Then we will call it Victory Boogie Woogie.” As they left the studio, Mondrian commented that the work was too yellow. When next seen, at the time of Mondrian’s death, the painting again had tape applied and it had been significantly altered by the artist.”
“Then one day I was in the Dudensing Gallery in New York and Valentine brought out Victory Boogie Woogie and I will never forget the impact. I don’t think anything has ever hit me as hard as that painting did. I called Chick [Austin] right away and told him I’d seen a picture where, for every door that Mondrian closed, he had opened a new one.”
“Valentine Dudensing, the dealer who owned the work [Victory Boogie Woogie} did not want to sell it, saying someday it would appreciate enough to buy him a chateau in France, After discussing the painting, the Tremaines decided to meet the dealer’s price which “seemed a lot for a Mondrian, but not very much for a chateau.”