The stepped frame construction seen in Piet Mondrian’s Composition with White and Red became prevalent in his work in the 1930s. In this example, the plane of the canvas protrudes just beyond the double frame of simple wooden strips that encloses it; a slightly larger subframe of joined wooden boards acts as a pedestal. Mondrian rejected traditional picture frames, believing they imposed the illusion of depth on his abstract compositions. Instead, he developed innovative framing strategies to emphasize both the flatness of his painted surfaces and their implied extension into architectural space. The notion of expansion toward the surrounding environment was crucial to Mondrian’s broader understanding of the social significance of abstract art. He often referred to a future synthesis of painting and architecture as the moment of perfection when the pure harmony of art would finally permeate everyday life.
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