This essay looks at Piet Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942-43), one of the most iconic paintings in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art since it was acquired in 1943, offering a counterpoint to persistent readings that fundamentally position the work within a narrative of the European avant-garde. In a story that is both familiar and new, this essay highlights the structural and political insights provided by Mondrian's engagement with boogie-woogie music in America, through both recordings and visits to the nightclub Cafe Society, positioning the painting at the confluence of two streams of migration: one that brought Mondrian to New York as a war refugee and another that brought boogie-woogie sound northward with the Great Migration. Tracing these parallel histories, and how boogie-woogie signified in specific historical and political ways, deepens our understanding of how it modeled a space of freedom for Mondrian and shaped the vision realized in his two final paintings.

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