The Story of De Stijl

written by:
November 22, 2011

The threads of turn-of-the-20th century radicalism in the arts and design have by now pretty much been woven into one broad yarn: capital-M Modernism. But the new book The Story of De Stijl: Mondrian to Van Doesburg by Jans Janssen and Michael White offers a studied look at one of those threads, and ultimately argues that the Dutch art, design, and furniture of De Stijl—like Dadism in Switzerland, Futurism in Italy, the Viennese Secession, other national modern movements—is more strange, and thorny than the going narrative suggests. In a compelling trek through the key figures, manifestos, and designs, The Story of De Stijl offers a richly illustrated vision of what animated a coterie of thinkers, makers, and artists in the teens, 20s, and 30s in Holland. The book is out from Abrams in early December for $45, but have a look at our sneak peek at an excellent present for the design lover on your list.

  • 
  This painting is a highly abstracted look at the entrance to a mine by Bart van der Leck. Composition 1916 No. 4, 1916, oil on canvas, 113 x 222 cm. Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo.
    This painting is a highly abstracted look at the entrance to a mine by Bart van der Leck. Composition 1916 No. 4, 1916, oil on canvas, 113 x 222 cm. Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo.
  • 
  Vilmos Huszár's Hammer and Saw (Still life composition) is from 1917. Oil on canvas in a wooden frame covered with oil paint, 31.5 x 53.5 cm. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.
    Vilmos Huszár's Hammer and Saw (Still life composition) is from 1917. Oil on canvas in a wooden frame covered with oil paint, 31.5 x 53.5 cm. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.
  • 
  Born Emile Kupper, Theo van Doesburg (here with Composition IX; Opus 18 (Decomposition of The Card Players) from 1917-18) was one of De Stijl's leading artists and theorists. Oil on canvas in a wooden frame covered with oil paint, 127 x 117 cm. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, gift of Nelly van Doesburg, 1935.  Courtesy of: Gemeentemuseum Den Haag
    Born Emile Kupper, Theo van Doesburg (here with Composition IX; Opus 18 (Decomposition of The Card Players) from 1917-18) was one of De Stijl's leading artists and theorists. Oil on canvas in a wooden frame covered with oil paint, 127 x 117 cm. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, gift of Nelly van Doesburg, 1935.

    Courtesy of: Gemeentemuseum Den Haag

  • 
  Piet Mondrian is likely the most famous artists associated with De Stijl. His highly geometric work, such as "Composition with Grey Lines" from 1918 has served as inspiration for generations of modernists. Oil on canvas, 84.5 x 84.5 cm. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, acquired from A.P. van den Briel 1956.
    Piet Mondrian is likely the most famous artists associated with De Stijl. His highly geometric work, such as "Composition with Grey Lines" from 1918 has served as inspiration for generations of modernists. Oil on canvas, 84.5 x 84.5 cm. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, acquired from A.P. van den Briel 1956.
  • 
  This chair by Gerrit Rietveld hardly needs an introduction. Red and Blue Chair, 1917, made by: Gerard van de Groenekan after 1917, painted birch wood, 87.5 x 60 x 76 cm. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, purchased from Truus Schröder of Utrecht, 1955
    This chair by Gerrit Rietveld hardly needs an introduction. Red and Blue Chair, 1917, made by: Gerard van de Groenekan after 1917, painted birch wood, 87.5 x 60 x 76 cm. Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, purchased from Truus Schröder of Utrecht, 1955
  • 
  The forms here in Georges Vantongerloo's "Interrelation de volumes" (Interrelationship of volumes) from 1919 could be a sculpture, a Mayan form, some brutal piece of furniture writ small. Stone, 12.0 x 12.0 x 18.0 cm. Collection of Chantal and Jakob Bill, Adligenswil.
    The forms here in Georges Vantongerloo's "Interrelation de volumes" (Interrelationship of volumes) from 1919 could be a sculpture, a Mayan form, some brutal piece of furniture writ small. Stone, 12.0 x 12.0 x 18.0 cm. Collection of Chantal and Jakob Bill, Adligenswil.
  • 
  De Stijl rarely skimped on color, one of the pleasures of this brand of Dutch design. Jan Wils, Presentation drawing of the entrance to the C. Bruijnzeel office building and door factory in Purmerend, 1920, pencil and gouache on paper. Collection of the NAi, Wils archive, Rotterdam.
    De Stijl rarely skimped on color, one of the pleasures of this brand of Dutch design. Jan Wils, Presentation drawing of the entrance to the C. Bruijnzeel office building and door factory in Purmerend, 1920, pencil and gouache on paper. Collection of the NAi, Wils archive, Rotterdam.
  • 
  Here's another architectural perspective from Jan Wils. Jan Wils, Perspective drawing for the Daal en Berg district (De Papaverhof), The Hague, 1919-20, pen and ink on paper. Collection of the NAi, Wils archive, Rotterdam.
    Here's another architectural perspective from Jan Wils. Jan Wils, Perspective drawing for the Daal en Berg district (De Papaverhof), The Hague, 1919-20, pen and ink on paper. Collection of the NAi, Wils archive, Rotterdam.
  • 
  Blocky forms and primary colors from Theo van Doesburg. Theo van Doesburg, Colour design for the rear elevation of Spangen block VIII, Pieter Lagendijkstraat, 1921, pencil, indian ink and gouache on paper, 12 x 26 cm, Collection of the Fondation Custodia, Institut Néerlandais, Paris.
    Blocky forms and primary colors from Theo van Doesburg. Theo van Doesburg, Colour design for the rear elevation of Spangen block VIII, Pieter Lagendijkstraat, 1921, pencil, indian ink and gouache on paper, 12 x 26 cm, Collection of the Fondation Custodia, Institut Néerlandais, Paris.
  • 
  Theo van Doesburg and Cornelis van Eesteren, Color design for a university hall in perspective, facing the stairwell, 1923, pencil, gouache and collage on paper, 62 x 144 cm. Collection of the NAi, Rotterdam, Van Eesteren archive
    Theo van Doesburg and Cornelis van Eesteren, Color design for a university hall in perspective, facing the stairwell, 1923, pencil, gouache and collage on paper, 62 x 144 cm. Collection of the NAi, Rotterdam, Van Eesteren archive
  • 
  Theo van Doesburg, "Counterconstruction," 1923, gouache on collotype, 57 x 57 cm. Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Edgar J. Kaufmann Jr. Fund 1947Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our  FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!   Courtesy of: Digital Image 2004 (c) MoMA, New York/Scala, Florence
    Theo van Doesburg, "Counterconstruction," 1923, gouache on collotype, 57 x 57 cm. Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Edgar J. Kaufmann Jr. Fund 1947

    Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

    Courtesy of: Digital Image 2004 (c) MoMA, New York/Scala, Florence

@current / @total

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...