© 2017

Mondrian's Philosophy of Visual Rhythm

Phenomenology, Wittgenstein, and Eastern thought


About this book


This volume investigates the meaning of visual rhythm through Piet Mondrian’s unique approach to understanding rhythm in the compositional structure of painting, drawing reference from philosophy, aesthetics, and Zen culture. Its innovation lies in its reappraisal of a forgotten definition of rhythm as ‘stasis’ or ‘composition’ which can be traced back to ancient Greek thought. This conception of rhythm, the book argues, can be demonstrated in terms of pictorial strategy, through analysis of East Asian painting and calligraphy with which Greek thought on rhythm has identifiable commonalities. The book demonstrates how these ideas about rhythm draw together various threads of intellectual development in the visual arts that cross disparate aesthetic cultural practices. As an icon of early 20th Century Modernism, Mondrian’s neoplasticism is a serious painterly and philosophical achievement. In his painting, Mondrian was deeply influenced by Theosophy, which took its influence from Eastern aesthetics; particularly East Asian and Indian thought. However, Mondrian’s approach to visual rhythm was so idiosyncratic that his contribution to studies of visual rhythm is often under-recognized. This volume shows that a close inspection of Mondrian’s own writing, thinking and painting has much to tell scholars about how to understand a long forgotten aspect of visual rhythm. Rodin’s famous criticism of photography (“athlete-in-motion is forever frozen”) can be applied to Muybridge’s zoopraxiscope, the Futurists’ rendition of stroboscopic images, and Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase.” Through a comparative study between Mondrian’s painting and these seminal works, this volume initiates a new convention for the cognition of the surface of painting as visual rhythm.

 “Mondrian’s simultaneous emphasis on the static and the rhythmic is hardly fodder for a publicist. Eiichi Tosaki has taken on the challenge of elucidating Mondrian’s theories of rhythm, and particularly his conception of “static” rhythm. The result is a tour de force that will forever alter the reader’s encounter with the works of Mondrian.”
Prof. Kathleen Higgins


Ancient Greek theories of rhythm Eastern aesthetics Gilles Deleuze Husserlian phenomenology Jastrow's duck-rabbit and aspect dawning Kyoto School of Philosophy Piet Mondrian Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations Zen aesthetics calligraphy tradition rhythm as schema theories of rhythm visuals of rhythm

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.CoburgAustralia

About the authors

Tosaki Eiichi has a PhD in Art History and Philosophy, Melbourne University (2002) and is currently completing his second PhD in Drawing and Art Therapy at the School of Art and Design, Monash University. Eiichi is an Honorary Fellow at the Philosophy Department, Melbourne University and was a Adjunct Research Fellow at the Japanese Studies Centre Monash University. Eiichi has taught various areas including art history, design theory, aesthetics, Western and Eastern philosophy and religion, Japanese culture (including Manga & Anime) and studio art. Eiichi is also keen on applying his own method of drawing to health and medical sciences area, especially in the brain training area.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Mondrian's Philosophy of Visual Rhythm
  • Book Subtitle Phenomenology, Wittgenstein, and Eastern thought
  • Authors Eiichi Tosaki
  • Series Title Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures
  • Series Abbreviated Title Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-94-024-1196-6
  • Softcover ISBN 978-94-024-1507-0
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-024-1198-0
  • Series ISSN 2211-1107
  • Series E-ISSN 2211-1115
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XXVII, 260
  • Number of Illustrations 4 b/w illustrations, 13 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Aesthetics
    Fine Arts
    Non-Western Philosophy
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Tosaki has travelled a great deal to see Mondrian’s paintings, and has absorbed a deal of commentary on them. The book is full of information of a useful kind, all of it to the point. … It should sell well to the Libraries of Universities and Art Schools. Serious scholars would read this book: University Libraries should buy it.” (Patrick Hutchings, Sophia, Vol. 59, 2020)