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De Stijl (Dutch for "The Style") also known as Neoplasticism, was a Dutch art movement founded in 1917 in Leiden. De Stijl consisted of artists, architects and designers brought together by Theo van Doesburg. In a narrower sense, the term De Stijl is used to refer to works from 1917 to c.1924 founded in the Netherlands. Proponents of De Stijl advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour; they simplified visual compositions to vertical and horizontal, using only black, white and primary colors. The movement's influence was immense, and continues to affect artists, designers and architects today.

Motivation[]

In Mondrian's opinion, only abstract art can show the harmony behind what's visible. He explored and refined his conception of pure colour and form his work and writings, becoming one of the most important artists of the 1st half of the 20th century and an important touchstone for all abstract artists.

In the year this art movements was founded, there was still a war going on. With De Stijl, people longed for a world of inner peace, harmony and order, instead of the everyday chaos. The mission of artists of this movement was to create a new art in the spirit of peace and harmony. They believed that the reduction, the purification, of art (for, colour and line) would in turn lead to a renewal of society, and that when art was fully integrated into life it would no longer be necessary.

Art[]

Artists wanted to break the age-old tradition of art needing a clear presentation. They did not want to paint what was in front of them, for example a landscape, but they wanted to paint their feelings and thoughts.[1] And for them, that was best done by extreme simplicity and abstraction. They also argued that while a realistic painting shows reality, it does not show the truth.[2]

De Stijl paintings are composed of horizontal and vertical lines, right angles, and rectangular or square surfaces of flat colours. The palette is reduced to primary colours of red, yellow and blue, and the neutral colours of white, black and grey.

Architecture[]

Shröder House, Utrecht, the Netherlands, by Gerrit Rietveld, 1924

Exterior of the Shröder House, Utrecht, the Netherlands, by Gerrit Rietveld, 1924

Interior of the Shröder House, Utrecht, the Netherlands, by Gerrit Rietveld, 1924

Interior of the Shröder House, Utrecht, the Netherlands, by Gerrit Rietveld, 1924

Architects wanted to "start from zero" with this movement, to break away from designing 'old-fashioned' houses. De Stijl architcture is similar with paintings of this aesthetic. It shows a similar clarity, austerity and order, taking the geometric abstraction of straight lines, right angles and clean surfaces in 3D. Gerrit Rietveld's Shröder House in Utrecht, the Netherlands (1924) is in many ways the masterpiece of the whole De Stijl movement.

Features of De Stijl architecture:

  • Open structure
  • Use of horizontal and vertical forms
  • No decoration
  • Sliding walls
  • No clear room lay-out
  • No thought for privacy

Notable artists[]

Revivals[]

Out of all the De Stijl artists, Piet Mondrian is without any doubt the most famous. His paintings with white, black and primary colored-rectangles are very iconic. Because of this, they inspired multiple designers in created objects and fashion that remind us of these paintings.

References[]

  • "Bespiegeling" (art book for school) written by J. Groenendijk, E. Heijnen, S. Keuning, M. Maas
  1. Explanation from Malevich
  2. Brancusi's argument
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