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... in progress .....

In a study of creative processes we found a correlation between 'forces' working in the prenatal development of artists and their paintings and sculptures. We found a similarity between these 'forces' and the planetary aspects in the prenatal development of artists. This study is based on observations of Leonardo da Vinci and Johannes Itten (1).

In this example of Holtzman and Mondrian these 'forces' are Mars/Saturnus conjunction and Mercurius/Saturnus conjunction.

In this topic we will describe:

- a short biography of Harry Holtzman

- illustrated with his paintings and sculptures

- an explanation of the 'forces' in the prenatal development of Holtzman

- the similarity between the 'forces' of Holtzman and Mondrian.

Harry Holtzman, a short biography (2)

Early life

Harry Holtzman was born to Russian Jewish immigrants in New York, on June 8, 1912.

At the age of fourteen, Holtzman visited the "International Exhibition of Modern Art" in the Brooklyn Museum in 1926. He developed an early interest in advanced art with the guidance and couragement of a high school teacher.

Art Students League, New York

At sixteen, in 1928, he studied at the Art Students League in New York. His teachers were Thomas Hart Benton, George Grosz and Hans Hofmann.

Drawing and paintings of Harry Holtzman, 1929, 1932 and 1933

A way to abstraction

In this period Holtzman worked directly from the nude. He produced drawings that reveals a progressive evolution towards abstraction.

Step by step his works, using his own words, become "absolutely pure, very much in a kind of expressionist so called abstract expressionisme vene."

Harry Holtzman was part of the first exhibition of abstract art organized at the Art Students League, with Burgoyne Diller, Albert Swinden, Albert Wilkenson.

"Untitled", 1933                                  and "Equilibrium of Movement and Contromovement", 1933

From 1933 the abstract research of Harry Holtzman evolves then into a serie of rectilinear works, basically an independent abstraction from external objects.

He had begun to divide his compositions into overlapping rectangles of color. An important work of this period is "Dynamic Equilibrium of Movement and Contromovement" (#661 Estate of Harry Holtzman)

January, 1934, Harry Holtzman in his own words, ".... in my completely independent development I'd struck in a direction, which without knowing it, was taken me in a direction similar to Mondrian. One day Diller was seeing some works in my studio. ... He asked me if I had seen the recently opened Museum of Living Art in the New York University Library. ... I hadn't. ... I went, This was the first clue I had to Mondrian's perception, the two paintings that Gallatin had acquired ...."

"... I became obsessed with not only the paintings of Mondrian, but with the idea that the man had to think certain things about historical transformation, the values and functions of art. I really had to go to Europe to speak him."

"Equilibirium of Movement and Contromovement", 1933 and "Composition with Yellow and Blue", 1932

Harry Holtzman and Piet Mondrian.


By the end of November, 1934 Holtzman had raised enough money to pay for passage to France. In mid-December he introduced himself to Mondrian in the Dutch artist's Paris studio. Despite a language barrier and an age difference of forty years, the two men became good friends during the four months of Holtzman's stay in Paris.

Harry Holtzman, "Untitled", 1938

New York

When Holtzman returned to New York City in 1935, he joined the WPA Federal Art Project.

In a series of untitled gouaches from the mid-1930s you see the effect of the Dutch master on Holtzman: Mondrian's signature black-and-white armatures and rectangles of blue and red had migrated into Holtzman's work.

Harry Holtzman, "Untitled", 1939

American Abstract Artists group

In 1936 Holtzman was instrumental in bringing together the nucleus of painters and scupltors who established the American Abstract Artists in 1937.

1940, Mondrian left Europe for New York

During the German Blitz of London in 1940, Holtzman arranged for Mondrian to come to New York, where he arrived that October.

October 3, 1940: as Mondrian arrives in New York: Holtzman is waiting on the pier and takes him to the Beekman tower on east 49th St., where Mondrian spends his first few days. Knowing his passion for jazz, Holtzman almost immediately plays some recordings of boogie-woogie music, a rhythmically propulsive form of piano blues then enjoying a popular revival, which Mondrian, Holtzman recalls, finds "Enormous, enormous". Mondrian had written an essay titled "Jazz and Neoplasticism" in 1927.

Holtzman takes Mondrian to his summer home in the Berkshires to recuperate from the journey, then finds him an apartment on the third floor of 353  East 56th St., on the corner of first ave. Holtzman will pay the rent and buy him a bed and after Mondrian's resists for several months, a record player.

Holtzman rented an apartment-studio for him, and during the next three and a half years he was one of Mondrian's most intimate associates.


Harry Holtzman and Mondrian, with "Sculpture 1", 1941, New York

New York during WWII

Of a painting construction (Sculpture 1941) by Harry Holtzman, Piet Mondrian commented: "In the present three dimensional works of harry Holtzman the picture moves still more from the wall into our surrounding space. In this way the painting mre literally annihilaes the thre dimensional volume."( in a letter to Harry Holtzman 6 1 1942).

The two, Holtzman and Mondrian, had their difference. For instance, in paintings like "Square Volume With Green" (1937) and the undated "Red, Orange, Green, and Yellow", Holtzman incorporates squares and rectangles of green into the classic neoplastic grid, and the two artists discussed the issue in  their letters.

Holtzman also diverged from Mondrian with respect to three-dimensional objects. Mondriaan remained a painter of two-dimensional surfaces. Holtzman, however, created sculptural works.

Florence Griswold Museum, 96 Lyme street, Old Lyme, 2013 - January 26, 2014

In an exhibition in the Florence Griswold Museum in 2014, two rectilinear columns, "Sculpture I" (1940) and "Sculpture" (1941-1942), sit in the center of the second gallery. They are unmistakable in their Neoplastic composition, but exciting because they are so unusual.

New York 1944

After Mondrian's dead on February 1, 1944, Holtzman made a film documenting Mondrian's studio. The space is famous for its precise layout and white walls, prefiguring the ubquitous white cube of contemporary art gallery spaces. Mondriaan had fixed square sheets of primary-colored paper to the walls and bookshelves, creating a kind of three-dimensional Neoplastic installation. Holtzman's silent color film is a fantastic document and an uncanny posthumous portrait of Mondrian.

Mondrian's death was notable in other ways: Holtzman became the executor of his estate, making sure Mondrian's work was placed in collections where it would be seen and publishing his writings in English. 


In 1947, Holtzman became a faculty member of the Institute for General Semantics. He edited the journal Trans/Formation: Arts, Communications, Environment.

Since 1957, Harry Holtzman visited the Asian continent documenting its life and culture and gathering an important photographic documentation, relevant both from the artistic and the ethnographic point of view.

The evolution of the artistic research of Harry Holtzman of these decades led him to illustrate semanticim's theory of the interrelation of symbolization and perception in some of his works. The end result of his long research was a series of "open reliefs", in the 1980s.

Holtzman thaught at Brooklyn College for roughly 25 years, from 1950 til 1975.

In 1962 Holtzman began to renovate a barn in Lyme, Conn., near Griswold, into a living and working space. In the following years he constructed huge stone fireplaces in each of the living areas.


A few pieces offer insights into what Holtzman might have achieved if he had been producing art more regularly during the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

"Untitled" from around 1960 is an oil on canvas with rectilinear planes of yellow, orange and brown that suggests a shift away from Mondrian's primary colors;  

"Rembrandt's Sister"(1975) is a figure drawing that shows some of Holtzman's teaching methods, while retaining the chunky geometry of his abstract days.


Holtzman, "Sculpture", 1983 ------------------------ Exhibition in the Florence Griswold Museum, 2013 - January 26. 2014


In the early 1980s, there was an efflorescence: Picking up almost where he left off, Holtzman began to create work that seems like a natural outgrowth of the sculpture from the mid-1940s. The difference is that these were what the artist called "open reliefs", flat squares of painted wood stacked vertically, with the whole arrangement perched on a rock. A couple are even mounted in boxes of sand, suggesting a Zen garden.

.... in progress ...............



Cosmo-biological research of the life and work of Harry Holtzman.

Prenatal development and progressions.

In a study of creative processus  we found a correlation between 'forces' working in the prenatal development of artists and their paintings and sculptures. We found a similarity between these 'forces' and the planetary aspects in the prenatal development of artists. This study is based on observations of Leonardo da Vinci and Johannes Itten. (1)

We have studied, since 1982, more than thirty years, the works of many artists, as Picasso, Mondriaan, Vincent van Gogh, Kandinsky, Cézanne, Monet, Redon, Gauguin, Seurat, and so on.


The main conclusion is that 'forces' working in the prenatal development of artists become visible in their paintings and sculptures.

In the example of Holtzman (and Mondrian) these 'forces' are Mars and Saturnus.

The 'force' of Mars we can see by these artists working with lines, artists making drawings, designers, engravers, and so on.

The 'force' of Saturnus is always present in the works of artists who works in any way of abstraction, making hard-edge forms, even making stained glass.

Planetary aspects

In the table below we have made an overview of all planetary aspects in the prenatal development and in the progression of Harry Holtzman in correlation with his works.

For the years 1933-1934, Mars is retrograde in the prenatal development (at the left), and makes a conjunction with Saturnus in the progression (in the middle).

Mondrian has the same Mars-Saturnus conjunction in his prenatal development for the years around 1912 (the year of birth of Holtzman!)

The prenatal 'forces' - Mars and Saturnus

The 'force' of the "Mars-Saturnus" conjunction is visible in the artworks of Mondrian, in the years around 1912.


Church, painting, 1911, --- drawing, 1912, --- composition, 1912, --- Self-portrait, charcoal on paper, 1913, the same portrait, dated 1911, is in the Collection Holtzman, New York.


The same 'force' of the "Mars-Saturnus" conjunction is visible in the artworks of Holtzman, in the years around 1933-1934.


Untitled, 1932, ---------------- Untitled, 1933, ---------------------- Equilibrium of Movement and contromovement, 1933

The artworks of Holtzman and Mondrian in these years are characterized by a simplification of form by a composition of rectilinear lines.

Mondrian made abstractions of churches, trees, fronts of buildings in Paris, self-portraits.

Holtzman made abstractions of the human figure, and from external objects.

Both, Mondrian and Holtzman, have the same outcome, horizontal and vertical lines

.... in progress .....................



In the days after the birth of Harry Holtzman, the planet Saturnus moves forward, in the direction of a conjunction with Mercurius. This is interesting, because Mondrian also had a Saturnus Mercurius conjunction at the time he made his first characteristic works with horizontal and vertical lines, in 1921.

Holtzman had his own Saturnus in conjunction Mercurius from the time he made his rectilinear composition drawings. 

In "Untitled" (1933) we see in the middle of the picture a very interesting detail, in a composition like a painting of Mondrian. We have taken a detail.


"Untitled", 1933, before Holtzman met Mondrian in 1934, detail and Comp. Red, Yellow, Black, Gey and Blue, 1921, by Mondrian.

This example makes clear the similarity between the artworks of Holtzman, in 1933, before he met Mondrian and the artworks of Mondrian.

It makes clear, the amazement of Harry Holtzman at the sight of a painting of Mondriaan in the Library in January, 1934. 

It makes also clear that he "... became obsessed with not only the paintings of Mondrian, but with the idea that the man had to think certain things about historical transformation, the values and functions of art. I really had to go to Europe to speak him."

In my own words

".... the similarity between the artworks of Mondrian and Holtzman can be seen in the planetary aspects in the prenatal development and in the progression of both artists ....... that's amazing ..... I really had to go to New York to speak with Harry Holtzman and Piet Mondrian."



Overview of the planetary aspects in the prenatal development of Mondrian 

(1) Trattato della Pittura, Leonardo da Vinci, ...

       The Art of Color, Johannes Itten, ....

       read: Starting Points (uitgangspunten)

(2) Wikipedia

      ... in progress ....

(3) ..... 

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