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3 Interviews

  • Thelonius Monk / T.S. Monk
  • Nicholas Fox Weber
  • Joop M. Joosten

Harry Holtzman  & Madalena Holtzman
Edited  by  Wietse  Coppes


Harry Holtzman Portrait of Piet Mondrian in the Studio of Harry Holtzman New York 1941-1942

Harry Holtzman, Portrait of Piet Mondrian in the Studio of Harry Holtzman, New York, 1941-1942

In November 2013 Madalena Holtzman visited the RDK -Netherland Institute for Art History. Being one of three children of the American artist Harry Holtzman, she was particulary interested in the material regarding her father that was acquired by the RKD in early 2012. Harry Holtzman became a good friend of the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, whom he first visited in Paris in December 1934. Holtzman financially supported Mondrian when he latter immigrated to New York in September 1940. In New York, Harry Holtzman continued looking after and supporting him, both financially and morally. Out of gratitude for this lasting friendship and help, Mondrian declared Holtzman the sole heir to his Estate and belongings.

Harry Holtzman, Untitled, Tempera and casein on canvas, 18 x 22 inch, 1933

  When the RKD acquired the personal archive of Piet Mondrian in early 2012, this turned out to also contain the letters that Piet Mondrian had written to Harry Holtzman between 1935 and 1943, documenting their friendship, travels, exhibitions and work in the aforementioned period. During her study at the RKD of this and other material regarding her father and Piet Mondrian, Madalena Holtzman developed the idea of doing a series of interviews with various people that have a connection to Mondrian and/or Harry Holtzman. The first three of these interviews are presented here. It starts of with an interview by Harry Holtzman with tha famous jazz musician Thelonius Monk, held at Minton’s Playhouse in 1948. 65 years later, Madalena interviewed the son of Thelonius Monk, TS Monk. Both interviews are combined here and contain striking resemblances between father and son Monk, but also between father and daughter Holtzman.

Unknown photographer Harry Holtzman and two friends in his studio, early 40's

Unknown photographer, Harry Holtzman and two friends in his studio, early 40’s

 The second interview is with the writer and director of the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Nicholas Fox Weber. Fox Weber is currently writing a biography on Piet Mondrian, an Artist that was greatly admired by the Alber’s as well as by the author himself.

The third interview was taken at the RKD during the visit of Madalena Holtzman in November 2013, with former RKD-curator and Mondrian expert par excellence, Dr Joop M. Joosten. The interview provides a rare insight in the man that dedicated a large part of his life to studying and writing about Mondrian.

The results of this thorough research culminated in the Piet Mondrian Catalogue Raisonne’, which was published in 1998. This book is an indispensable source of information for anyone studying Piet Mondrian, his circle and the modern art scene of that period.

The three interviews that make up the booklet are the first of hopefully many more to come.

With the interviews, Madalena Holtzman hopes to stimulate the further scholary research and provide more insight into the seminal period of early abstraction in Europe and in the United States.

Wietse Coppes

Assistant-curator Mondrian & De Stijl Archives

RKD – Netherlands Institute for Art History

Read the interviews here:


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