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Art Movements in Art History - Introduction to De Stijl

Art Movements > De Stijl > Introduction to De Stijl

Introduction to De Stijl*

De Stijl is the name of both a group of artists and a magazine. The group was active during
the years 1917 to 1928 in Holland. In intention and practice De Stijl is concerned with
abstraction. Of the three movements that were influenced by Cubism's potential for
abstraction, De Stijl is, in the opinion of Chipp, "the purest and most idealistic".
Pure in that the works are nonrepresentational, geometric and ordered; idealistic in that De
Stijl hoped to "provide for perfect harmony for both man as an individual and society as a
whole". The first manifesto, which was published in November 1918, in
four languages, pronounces on these ideals of a spiritualised world-changing abstract art. It
addressed "all who believe in the reformation of art and culture ... towards a radical
purification of the arts, in the process of which impediments such as traditions, dogmas, and
the domination of the individual would be eliminated".

While aligning themselves with these ideas the members of the group frequently acted
independently and interpreted the manifesto's aims differently. The group never acted as a
cohesive group or collective; they were held together and managed by Theo van Doesburg
while the other central figure was the painter Piet Mondrian. Others included Antony Kok
(essayist), JJP Oud (architect), Bart van der Leck (painter), Vilmos Huzar (designer), Jan
Wils (architect), Robert van't Hoff (architect), Georges Vantongerloo (sculptor).

 

Next: Van Doesburg and De Stijl >>


* Drawn from notes compiled by R. Becker for the University of South Africa

 




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