John Beattie has devoted his practice to replicas of Piet Mondrian’s studio at 26 rue du Départ. The Dutch painter left the studio when he fled Europe in 1938, and it was later destroyed to make way for the expansion of Gare Montparnasse. Beattie’s Rebuild Mondrian, 2013-22, approaches the missing site as a synecdoche for the artist. The sixty-minute moving image work centers on a life-size model of the studio by Dutch architect Frans Postma, who was inspired by black-and-white photographs taken by Paul Delbo in 1926. But what’s the point? the reconstruction of the Parisian? port from which Mondrian launched his flotillas of neoplastic fabrics?

At a film studio in Amsterdam, Beattie captures the Postma crew unloading pre-assembled architectural elements from a truck. Each of these puzzle-shaped fragments, wrapped in a pink fabric with Velcro closure, is treated as a work in its own right. The team interlocks walls, windows and floors, following the annotated tape marks on the floor – outlines the brash yellow hue can’t help but recall Broadway boogie woogie, 1942–43. Through its multiple levels of mediation, Rebuild Mondrian shows how each mobilization of the replica pays homage to Mondrian, reshaping his legacy in different institutional contexts.

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