Tag Archives: art

De Stijl

aka neoplasticism. 

Having lived in Holland for 12 years, I was under the impression that I had a fair grasp on Dutch art history. I was familiar with names such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, and Mondrian from a young age; I even have a distinct memory of  making a collage in the style of Piet Mondrian during my  primary education. We had learned about his preference to use primary colours in his works: red, yellow and blue.

Last month, I was back in the Netherlands, revisiting memories and growing nostalgic over my town of birth. While I was there, I decided to visit the Gemeente Museum, where they have a continuous Piet Mondrian & De Stijl exhibit. I thought that this would help enhance what I already know on the artist and his style. Much to my surprise, I walked out of the exhibit thinking, ‘Wow, I knew almost absolutely nothing about this guy!’

Piet Mondrian was just one artist among several who were united under De Stijl, a school of art founded in the Netherlands circa 1917. The theory and practice of De Stijl group shook the foundations of modern art on an international scale.

As I previously mentioned, Piet Mondrian embraced painting in black, white, primary colours, and straight lines. His early works, which for the most part reflected reality as he perceived it, transformed gradually and became progressively abstract.  What influenced Mondrian the most was one of many avant-garde movements: cubism. Cubism was primarily characterized by the use of geometric shapes and a monochromatic use of colour. Although Mondrian’s early work is realistic, over time he becomes inspired by the cubist style and adopts his own style.

The school of art which is now recognized as De Stijl, was not only embraced by painters but also by sculptures, and architects. In fact, one of Holland’s most famous designers, Gerrit Rietveld, designed an armchair inspired by Mondrian and De Stijl. This design which has gained world-wide fame is known as Rood-Blauwe Stoel (translation: Red and Blue chair). 

I was also surprised to discover that there was another founding father of De Stijl movement: an artist named Theo van Doesburg. Doesburg was a man of many talents, practicing poetry, painting and architecture. Unlike Mondrian who’s version of this avant-garde movement was called neoplasticism, Doesburg preferred calling this movement elementarism, as it emphasized linear and geometric shapes with subtle shifts in tone and angle. This different perception of the style is perhaps what led to Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg’s split in 1924. Doesburg  believed that the power and importance of abstraction lay in the harmony which could be achieved by it. He also felt that despite elementarism being a simple and minimal approach, on a spiritual and moral level it is uplifting. This is particularly visible in his work, The Dancers.


It’s funny how you can live in a place for so long and think you know about its cultural background, but then years later you can turn back and realize that there are many gaps to fill in.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

A Day At The Art Gallery

The title of this post is rather nostalgic… I once had to write a creative story with this title and some other constraints and today, I became in some ways the protagonist of my short story.
My friend invited me to go to an Affordable Arts fair today, here in Brussels. I really enjoyed it. She got invited by her art teacher who also had one of her paintings there.

It was generally speaking contemporary arts ranging from photography to oil paintings and collages. It was organized gallery by gallery. Each gallery from different parts of Europe had their own corner to present the artists that they are representing. One of the galleries which I loved as a whole was Bleach Box. It’s a gallery situated in the UK in Cambridge. I fell in love with the photographer Richard Heeps’ work. It was perfect. It just worked for me in so many ways. Not only did it appeal to my “taste in life” but it was also artistically strong; I could feel the passion just by looking at the photo. Which brings me back to my original point about how much this post reminds my of the story I wrote. In the story the protagonist got lost in a photography and found themselves in that time and place… and I have to admit, I can’t say that the feeling didn’t pass me by. It was truly a wonderful night.

You can click here to see the kind of work Richard Heeps has been up to! You can also check out my second favourite artist from the fair right here! 🙂

After this outing I have officially decided to name Wednesday my lucky weekday, as anything and everything good happens today! 🙂

Tagged , , , , , ,