The style; began in Holland in 1917. It was an art movement advocating abstraction and simplicity – with form reduced to rectangular/geometric shapes, and color limited to the primary colors along with black and white. A poster from 1916 shows the beginnings of de Stijl, flat color, bold horizontal and vertical lines creating spatial divisions.
This art movement was named and based around the magazine also entitled "deStijl". This magazine was edited by the artist Theo van Doesburg. Both the magazine and the art movement ran from 1917 until 1930ish – Doesburg died in 1931 and both quickly faded after because Doesburg had been such a strong
force behind them. Other artists who joined Doesburg in this art movement were painters; Mondrian, van der Leck, and Huszar, along with architects/ industrial designers; Oud, Rietveld, and Zwart.
Theo van Doesburg was born in 1883 in Utrecht, The Netherlands. He was born Christian Emil Küpper taking on the name van Doesburg later on. He also did his writing under the name I.K. Bonset. Van Doesburg orginally wanted to call the group "The Straight Line," but agreed on "de Stijl". It was van Doesburg who gets the credit for spreading the theories of deStijl, he traveled throughout Europe promoting them.
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DeStijl was concerned with developing an utopian style and spirit; it was not only about the style of things, but the belief was that anything emotional was taboo. De Stijl artists looked to express themselves through scientific theory and mathematical structure. The belief was, that WWI would get rid of the unnecessary/obsolete which would then allow for the developments in science, technology and politics bringing about a new era.
In 1925 van Doesburg collaborated with Moholy-Nagy on a book that translates to "Basic Concepts of Formmaking." This book showed how to apply the ideas of deStijl to graphic design.
Van Doesburg also collaborated with El Lissitzky, he invited Lissitzky to design and edit a double issue of "de Stijl," in 1922. Lissitzky reprinted his children's fable, "A tale of Two Squares," in Dutch.
As the style progressed it moved away from the strictness of horizontals and verticals at right angles, in 1924, Mondrian disassociated himself from the movement. He demanded strict adherence to the rules, because it tied in to his Calvinist (religious) background and the philosophy of M.H.J. Shoenmaker that strongly influenced Mondrian's thinking. This philosophy was, "…the horizontal and vertical as the two fundamental opposites shaping our world, and called for red, yellow, and blue the three principal colors."
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Piet Zwart came in contact with members of the deStijl group after serving in WWI. Although Zwart never joined the group because he felt they were too dogmatic, he was influenced by their style. Zwart often used Gothic and Egyptian type in bold asymmetric compostiions. He relied on the size and placement of the letters to convey a message – both literal and symbolic.
Along with designing buildings, Reitveld designed furniture. This is entitled "Red/Blue Chair," designed in 1918. This was his most famous piece of furniture, the Schöder house was his most famous architectural designs.
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