A Brief Guide to De Stijl: Modernist Design from the Netherlands
Auto Beauty Business Culture Dieting DIY Events Fashion Finance Food Freelancing Gardening Health Hobbies Home Internet Jobs Law Local Media Men's Health Mobile Nutrition Parenting Pets Pregnancy Products Psychology Real Estate Relationships Science Seniors Sports Technology Travel Wellness Women's Health

A Brief Guide to De Stijl: Modernist Design from the Netherlands

De Stijl can be understood as the Dutch version of Modernism. De Stijl aimed to achieve ultimate simplicity and abstraction, and expressed a utopian ideal of spiritual order by using pure geometric form and primary colour.

De Stijl can be understood as the Dutch version of Modernism. De Stijl aimed to achieve ultimate simplicity and abstraction, and expressed a utopian ideal of spiritual order by using pure geometric form and primary colour.

Origins

The movement was founded in 1917 by the painter and critic Theo Van Doesburg and revolved around a magazine called De Stijl. The title came to be used for the movement itself. The painter Piet Mondrian joined the group after meeting Van Doesburg at an exhibition in the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum. Mondrian produced a series of paintings composed entirely of a white background, grid patterns and primary colours. These became the key elements of De Stijl design.

Principal members of the group were:

? Theo Van Doesburg (1883–1931)

? Piet Mondrian (1872–1944)

? J.J.P. Oud (1890–1963),

? Vilmos Huszàr (1884–1960

? Gerrit Rietveld (1888–1964)

? Bart van der Leck (1876–1958)

? Robert van 't Hoff (1887–1979)

Theory

De Stijl was inspired by Theosophy. The eccentric mathematician M.H.J. Schoenmaekers devised a mystical Neo-Platonic philosophy based on geometry. Schoenmaekers published The New Image of the World (1915) and Principles of Plastic Mathematics (1916). From Schoenmaekers’s work the group developed an artistic philosophy known as Nieuwe Beelding or Neo-Plasticism. The term was coined by Mondrian in 1917. In his essay, 'Neo-Plasticism in Pictorial Art', Mondrian defined the new aesthetic:

This new plastic idea will ignore the particulars of appearance, that is to say, natural form and colour. On the contrary, it should find its expression in the abstraction of form and colour, that is to say, in the straight line and the clearly defined primary colour. [This art allows] only primary colours and non-colours, only squares and rectangles, only straight and horizontal or vertical line.

Design

The designer Gerrit Rietveld translated Mondrian’s experiments into three dimensions with his Red-Blue chair (1917). De Stijl produced few architectural structures, but Rietveld was commissioned to design a private house for Mrs Truus Schröeder in a conventional suburban area of Utrecht. This came to be known as the Schröeder House and was designed according to Van Doesburg’s theories of space. In his essay ‘Sixteen Points of a Plastic Architecture’ (1924), Van Doesburg writes:

The new architecture is anti-cubic, that is to say, it does not try to freeze the different functional space-cells in one closed cube. Rather it throws the functional space cells (as well as overhanging planes, balcony, volumes etc.) centrifugally from the core.

Reading:

Overy, P. (1969). De Stijl. London: Studio Vista.

Van Doesburg, T. (1924). ‘Towards a plastic architecture’ in De Stijl, XII, 6/7.

White, M. (2003) De Stijl and Dutch Modernism. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Need an answer?
Get insightful answers from community-recommended
experts
in Art & Art History on Knoji.
Would you recommend this author as an expert in Art & Art History?
You have 0 recommendations remaining to grant today.
Comments (3)
Ranked #20 in Art & Art History

another well written piece..good one :) v+done

Ranked #1 in Art & Art History

Thanks, Mr Ghaz.

Excellent. Sorry, I'm out of votes

ARTICLE DETAILS
RELATED ARTICLES
RELATED CATEGORIES