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De Stijl

The style; Holland, 1917

The Dutch review De Stijl was founded in 1917 by Theo van Doesburg, and the name has come to represent the common aims and utopian vision of a loose affiliation of Dutch and international artists and architects. The central figures of De Stijl—van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian—strove for a universal form that would correspond to their spiritual vision. Neo-Plasticism (meaning “a new plastic art”) was the term adopted by Mondrian to describe the qualities that De Stijl artists endeavored to achieve in their work. The essential idea underlying De Stijl’s radical utopian program was the creation of a universal aesthetic language based in part on a rejection of the decorative excesses of Art Nouveau in favor of a simple, logical style that emphasized construction and function, one that would be appropriate for every aspect of modern life. It was posited on the fundamental principle of the geometry of the straight line, the square, and the rectangle, combined with a strong asymmetricality; the predominant use of pure primary colors with black and white; and the relationship between positive and negative elements in an arrangement of non-objective forms and lines. Some scholars have considered the philosophical grounds of De Stijl in terms of theosophical spiritualism, while others view it in relation to Hegel’s philosophy of the dialectic. Other artists affiliated with De Stijl include Vilmos Huszár, J. J. P. Oud, Gerrit Rietveld, Bart van der Leck, and Georges Vantongerloo.

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