Character is Fate: Piet Mondrian’s Horoscope

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The publication Character is Fate: Piet Mondrian’s Horoscope is an artist book by artist Willem de Rooij that takes as its focus the historical and unique documents of Piet Mondrian’s horoscopes.

Works of other artists often play a role within the artistic practice of Willem de Rooij’s work. Out of his personal interest in astrology the idea arose to make Piet Mondrian’s horoscopes and the respective readings by Adriaan van de Vijsel accessible to a wider, English speaking public.

The original horoscopes were found as a stack of loose pages, having been ripped from whichever system was previously used to hold them together. Therefore, the manuscript in its present-day form lacks a clear chronology: many dates mentioned are non-sequential. This non-chronological ordering was maintained in the transcripts and translations produced for this publication. The original manuscripts by Van de Vijsel were written in 1911 and in some places make use of outdated expressions and spelling. For the purpose of this publication, the transcripts have been modified to comply with contemporary Dutch language.

In addition to reprints of the original horoscopes and the related readings, the publication also includes texts by Wietse Coppes (editor of the Mondrian Edition Project, RKD, the Netherlands) and Kocku von Stuckrad (professor of religious studies and dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen, the Netherlands). In his text “I’m the Same Just a Bit More Balanced, If I Don’t Deceive Myself,” Wietse Coppes describes Mondrian’s life at the time the horoscopes were written. Kocku von Stuckrad places Van de Vijsel’s readings in a broader historical context in his text “Adriaan van de Vijsel’s Reading of Piet Mondrian’s Horoscope: Some Observations.”

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art publishes the book in collaboration with the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) who have granted the rights to reproduce the manuscript for this publication. Character is Fate: Piet Mondrian’s Horoscope was launched on 21 May 2015 at Witte de With.

—Year Published


Willem de Rooij

Defne Ayas, Amira Gad, Willem de Rooij

Wietse Coppes, Kocku von Stuckrad

English Copy Editors
Marnie Slater, Alissa Jones Nelson

Dutch Copy Editors
Solange de Boer, Wietse Coppes, Marjolein Geraedts

Translation Dutch-English
Wouter Kruithof

Translation English-Dutch
Hessel de Ronde

Manuscript Transcription & Translation into English
Renée Staal

Amira Gad, Willem de Rooij

Žiga Testen

Printed & Bound By
Lecturis bv, Eindhoven


ISBN 978-94-91435-40-9

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art

All rights reserved. © the artist, authors, and Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2015.

Published with the support of Galerie Buchholz, Gifted Art Foundation.
Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art is supported by the city of Rotterdam (DKC) and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW).

Special Thanks to Ellen Augenbroe, Maria-Louiza Ouranou, and the Witte de With staff, particularly Paul van Gennip and Samuel Saelemakers.