De Stijl Got It: President Obama Visits Mondrian Works in The Hague

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By Stephanie Murg

Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
Smile and say “neo-plasticism”! President Obama, Gemeentemuseum director Benno Tempel, Mayor of The Hague Jozias van Aartsen, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte with Mondrian’s Victory Boogie Woogie. (Photo courtesy Gemeentemuseum Den Haag)

As the HQ of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court (among other globe-spanning, peace-making organizations), The Hague is known more for tribunals and arbitration than as a hotbed of art and design, but the Dutch city—the third largest in the Netherlands—is quite the trove of masterpieces and exquisite museums, and boasts a city hall designed by Richard Meier (and don’t even get us started on Scheveningen!). Those visiting this week for the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit got a taste of the North Sea city’s charms. President Obama found time between defcon-themed discussions to pop into the Art Deco-style home of Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, which owns the largest collection of work by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, and took in the museum’s “Mondrian & De Stijl” exhibition. Joined by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Gemeentemuseum director Benno Tempel, and mayor of The Hague Jozias van Aartsen, Obama admired Mondrian’s final painting, Victory Boogie Woogie (1944), and, according to the museum, declared it “fabulous.”