De Stijl – Neoplasticism (1917-1942)

Artistic movement founded in 1917 in Amsterdam, also known as Neoplasticism.
The artists most recognized with the movement were the painters Theo van Doesburg, who was also a writer and a critic, and Piet Mondrian, along with the architect Gerrit Reitveld. The movement proposed ultimate simplicity and abstraction through which they could express a Utopian idea of harmony and order.

Proponents of De Stijl advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour, they simplified visual compositions to the vertical and horizontal directions, and used only primary colors along with black and white.

The harmony and order was established through a reduction of elements to pure geometric forms and primary colors. Die Stijl was also the name of a publication discussing the groups theories which was published by van Doesburg. The publication Die Stijl represents the most significant work of graphic design from the movement, but the ideas of reduction of form and color are major influences on the development of graphic design as well.

De Stijl

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What are the characteristics of Neoplasticism?

Neoplasticism is grounded in the idea that the true purpose of art is not to reproduce real objects, but to express the absolutes of life. His aim was to promulgate a new design-paradigm of harmony and order, by reducing all art to essentials of form and colour

De Stijl was an ideal type of abstract art which could only be expressed in the purest of forms. Thus only squares and rectangles, and only straight horizontal or vertical lines could be used, while only primary colours (red, yellow and blue) and the three primary values (white, black and grey) could be applied.

In painting, these principles are exemplified in:

  • Van Doesburg‘s Arithmetische Compositie (1924),
  • Neoplasticism – Composition VII (1917),
  • Mondrian‘s Composition A (1929),
  • Composition With Blue And Yellow (1932),
  • Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red (1937–42).
Composition with Red, Blue, Yellow, 1930, P. Mondrian
Composition with Red, Blue, Yellow, 1930, P. Mondrian

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In architecture, Neoplasticism is best illustrated by the Rietveld Schroder House:

rietveld_schroderhuis_03The Rietveld Schröder House
Rietveld Schröder House, G. Rietveld

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and, in furniture, by the Red and Blue Chair:

Gerrit Rietveld
Red Blue Chair, G. Rietveld, c. 1923

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