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De Stijl

Artists' association

1917 in Leiden


Inspired by the writings of Wassily Kandinsky, Theo van Doesburg focused his attention on abstraction from 1914 onwards. In 1917 he founded an association called De Stijl (Dutch: style, formation) in Leiden. He also acted as the publisher of the magazine De Stijl, which existed until 1928, and in which the artists could present their ideas. The most important members included Piet Mondrian and Bart van der Leck , as well as the architect Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud. Mondrian developed pioneering design principles in his abstract pictures. His works always consist of a grid of straight black lines on a light background, into which patches of pure primary colours of various sizes are inserted. The members of De Stijl strove for a universal pictorial language through their concentration on elementary design forms. They aimed to avoid symmetrical arrangements but to create a balanced relationship between areas and colour distribution. On the basis of the idea of an autonomous, collectively valid order, the geometric simplicity of elementary proportions was intended to symbolise the equilibrium of the universe and at the same time to evoke harmony in society. One major aim was the design of the entire living environment – the transfer of the elementary proportions of painting to room design, architecture and design. In its use of forms and its claim to modernity the De Stijl movement was very close to the Bauhaus. Van Doesburg also gave lectures at the art school of the same name in Weimar on repeated occasions.

Persons belonging to De Stijl

Works associated with De Stijl