WE REMEMBER – Holly Foster Media


Dutch-born artist Piet Mondrian is considered a pioneer of abstract art. After a lifetime of painting in the Netherlands and France, he left Paris in 1938 in response to Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia. He was sixty-six when he arrived in his new home in a suburb of London.

By September of 1940, Nazi bombing raids known as the Blitz drove Mondrian to flee the U.K. and begin a new life in New York City. That same year he created his masterpiece Broadway Boogie Woogie.

Broadway Boogie Woogie is an example of neo-plasticism, a type of abstract painting that uses only geometric shapes, primary colors and horizontal lines.

Although I am not generally a fan of abstract art, I am drawn to the visual movement created by the artist. It’s compelling how these simple geometric shapes convey the excitement of Times Square, a feeling I have experienced in person many times myself.

“The title of the painting, Broadway Boogie-Woogie, is a nice collision of two delighted references to things that made Mondrian so enthusiastic about his new life in New York City: Broadway, a very busy, broad thoroughfare full of interesting stores, but also full of theaters representing the novelty and the liveliness of the American musical tradition, and boogie-woogie, the jazz music that Mondrian discovered here and loved so much. That combination of references in the title is really a tribute to New York City at that moment.”

Ann Temkin, American Art Curator

Take note of how Mondrian adeptly uses passive white space to give balance to the movement created by his geometric shapes.

“Choices in placement, proportions and relationships between shapes all drastically help shape the meaning of a graphic (Madsen, n.d.).

Like Mondrian, I love New York. Within the energy of the city I experience a feeling of freedom each time I visit. And as I do with my freedom, I often take art for granted. In actuality, good design takes planning.

In her book Graphic Design Solutions, Robin Landa describes the steps necessary to create a strong design (2019).

Research | Analysis | Concepts | Design | Implement

My research focused on looking at Mondrian’s work and how it evolved over the course of his life. His early work consisted of landscapes in a naturalistic or impressionist style. Later he was influenced by the Cubist style. Ultimately he became an important part of the group of artists who embraced abstract art.

For my analysis, I knew I was limited to using primary colors and geometric shapes. While working, the proximity of Memorial day and the abundance of red and blue in Broadway Boogie Woogie brought the American flag to mind. I sketched a few concepts on paper to get a rough idea as to whether my ideas would work.

At first my design consisted of a flat flag, which seemed a bit dull. To make it more exciting I decided to stagger my geometric shapes to give the perception of movement. The white background between the blue boxes would serve as the white stripes of the flag and allow some visual breathing space for the viewer.

Unlike Mondrian, I was working towards a more uncontrolled look that would accentuate the waving of the flag. The red rectangles are all unique and help achieve the perception of movement. In contrast, the blue rectangles are almost all identical.

I wanted the flag pole to flow vertically but resisted the urge to make each rectangle uniform, hoping to make the art more interesting. The words “we remember” were also added as a nod to our current troops and their families.

When Mondrian came to the U.S. in 1940, he found the same freedom we cherish today. This Memorial Day weekend, I am moved to remember those who died in active military service to protect our freedom. My final implementation is a digital tribute to those who never got out of uniform.

© 2019 Holly Foster

Graphic design uses images and text to convey a message, and my message is this — let us never forget those who made it possible to live in freedom, and may we always provide a space for those who wish to pursue their dreams in safety.

until nxt time …


Boulton, M. (2007, January 9). Whitespace. Retrieved from: https://alistapart.com/article/whitespace/

Chapman, S. [Steven Curtis Chapman]. (2017, May 29). “We Remember” – Official Music Video [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbiaN54hn-U

Landa, R. (2019). Graphic Design Solutions, Sixth Edition. Boston, MA: Cengage.

Madsen, R. (n.d.). Programming Design Systems. Retrieved from http://printingcode.runemadsen.com/lecture-form

Neo-plasticism – Art Term. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/n/neo-plasticism

Piet Mondrian. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Piet_Mondrian&oldid=892934155

Temkin, A. (n.d.). Piet Mondrian. Broadway Boogie Woogie. 1942-43 | MoMA. Retrieved from: https://www.moma.org/audio/playlist/1/196

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0 thoughts on “WE REMEMBER

  1. Hi Holly – Just like your artwork, I found my inspiration in Piet Mondrian’s simplistic methodology. It may not mimic Broadway Boogie-Woogie, but I can see the elements. The asymmetrical shapes, use of primary colors, and creative employment of whitespace to complete the image bring the flag to life. If this was available as a bumper sticker, I’d put it on my car in a heartbeat.

  2. Hi Holly! I love how you arranged the shapes to make the flag look like it has movement and is blowing in the wind. I can see the inspiration of Mondrian in your work. At first glance, it looks like a bunch of shapes that were randomly placed and formed an image. But when I looked closer, I could see that the shapes were meticulously sized and arranged. I also liked how you made the shade darker at the bottoms of the shape. It gives the flag more depth.

  3. Hi Holly! I love how you arranged the shapes to give the flag movement. It looks like it is flowing in the wind. This is a great example of how you can work with the composition to bring an image to life. I can see Mondrian’s influence in your work. At first glance, it seems like a bunch of shapes that somehow form a flag. But when I looked closer, I could see that the shapes were meticulously sized and placed. I also like how you made the shade darker toward the end of the square. It gives the flag a sense of depth.

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