De Stijl / Neoplasticism (1917-1942)

De Stijl, also called Neoplasticism, reacted to the strong trauma of World War I coming back to order. It was named after the Journal ‘De Stijl: Maandblad voor de moderne beeldende vakken [en kultuur]’ published to spread the group’s thought.

De Stijl 1:1 (October 1917)
De Stijl 1:1 (October 1917)

Image source: https://www.pinterest.de/nsqp/tpgrph/

De Stijl / Neoplasticism: Characteristics

Neo Plasticism thought that art was meant to express the absolutes of life. Mondrian mentioned his theory of Neo-Plasticism in Pictorial Art in the first dozen of the journal De Stijl. In 1920, he finished a book whose title was “Le Neo-Plasticisme”. This new art followed these fundamental principles:


  • Only geometric shapes could be used;
  • only primary colours were used;
  • The use of non-objective art was important;
  • Structured abstraction was used in paintings.
Piet Mondrian - Composition-c (1935).
Piet Mondrian – Composition c. (1935).

Image source: https://wikioo.org/paintings.php?refarticle=8XYS4K&titlepainting=composizione+c+%28+No+.+III+%29+con+il+rosso+%2C+giallo+e+blu&artistname=Piet+Mondrian&order=similar

Piet Mondrian was a theorist and writer, he thought that art was about the underlying spirituality of nature. He made simple the subjects of his paintings to the most basic features, in order to underline the essence of the mystical energy in the balancing forces that governed nature and the whole universe.

Piet Mondrian.
Piet Mondrian.

Image source: https://www.virtosuart.com/artists/piet-mondrian

De Stijil in Architecture 

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe created a whole new ground with his architectural projects. He began as a draftsman before starting his own works. He later on became a famous architect in Germany, building such structures as the German Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona Exposition. 

Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe.
Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe.

Image source: https://www.biography.com/artist/ludwig-mies-van-der-rohe

Rietveld Schröder House
Rietveld Schröder House

The Schroder House is the only building projected in the De Stijl style. It was marked by simple colors and geometric ideas. They are located in Utrecht and if faces a motorway built in the 1960s. Inside there is an open zone. Primary colours were chosen to make visible the plasticity of the facades.

Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud was a Dutch architect.  From 1918 to 1933, he was Municipal Housing Architect in Rotterdam. During this period, while many workers moved to the city, he mostly worked on socially innovative residential projects. This featured, in the areas of Spangen, Kiefhoek and the Witte Dorp.

Gallery house at Weissenhof Estate designed by J. Oud.
Gallery house at Weissenhof Estate designed by J. Oud.

Image source: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Jacobus_Oud

De Stijil Furniture

The De Stijl movement wanted to create art and designs that were precise and accurate, recalling the ‘exactness’ and ‘efficiency’ of machines. Nature was taken out from the final design. This can be seen in Gerrit Rietveld’s ‘Red Blue’ chair (1917-1918), representing De Stijl’s criteria for product concepts. The chair was originally finished with a natural wood finish, but was later changed to the strict De Stijl colour criteria.

‘Red Blue’ chair (1917-1918).
Red Blue chair (1917-1918).

Image source: https://www.lynn-byrne.com/posts/now-chairs-laminate

Info source: https://www.theartstory.org/movement/de-stijl/

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