• 10.13.15

A Magic Mirror That Transforms Abstract Paintings Into Mondrians

Stand in the sweet spot in front of Florian Born’s Encoded Mirrors, and Wassily Kandinsky’s masterpiece becomes a Piet Mondrian Composition.

Both abstract masters who explored the possibilities of primary colors in their work, there are many parallels between Piet Mondrian and Wassily Kandinsky. Even so, you’d never confuse Kandinsky’s vibrant, swirling Yellow-Red-Blue for any of Piet Mondrian’s strictly geometric Compositions, unless you were staring at it through this pixel art magic mirror, which reveals just how similar the two artists’ masterpieces really were to one another.


Created by Berlin-based designer Florian Born, Encoded Mirrors is a flat, square array of around 1,600 static mirrors. Positioned in front of Kandinsky’s painting, at first, the surface just seems to be a riot of different colors. But if you stare at the Encoded Mirror from just the right spot, you see that each individual mirror has been precisely placed, so that it reflects only a tiny patch of the painting’s color. If you find the sweet spot, Kandinsky’s Yellow-Red-Blue transforms into Mondrian’s Composition.

Encoding Mirrors was developed as part of the University of Arts Berlin’s 2015 Digital Klasse. It’s a very clever design, one that aims to educate art lovers about the shared color theories that inform both Mondrian and Kandinsky’s work. “Both [Kandinsky and Mondrian] had different approaches in terms of form, but when it comes to the choice of color, they agreed,” explains Born. “The three primary colors–red, blue, and yellow–are the most essential in their work.” You might never see this similarity if you saw the paintings side by side, but through Encoding Mirrors, you can literally watch one transform into the other.

You can check out more of Florian Born’s work here.