Mondrian's Friends - Holland 1914-1919 and De Stijl

Holland - Paris I - Paris II - London - New York - bottom - up

In 1914 Mondrian Returned to Holland for a short visit but was compelled to stay four years owing to the outbreak of the first world war. In 1915 he met Theo van Doesburg and in 1916 Bart van der Leck, both of whom were involved, with Mondrian, in founding the De Stijl journal, which became a movement.
Other De Stijl contributors included the artists Vilmos Huszar and Georges Vantongerloo, furniture designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld and architects J.J.P. Oud, Jan Wils, Robert van't Hoff. These were not necessarily friends or influences on PM, but are included to show the common threads running through the designs of members of the movement.

I have added a page of TvD's works here.

TvD and Helena Milius, 1917
Theo van Doesburg(Christian Emil Maries Küpper)

Dutch painter, architect, and writer on art. His early work was influenced variously by Impressionism, Fauvism, and Expressionism, but in 1915 he met Mondrian and rapidly underwent a transition to complete abstraction. In 1917 he founded the association of artists called De Stijl and the periodical of the same name, and for the remainder of his life the propagation of the ideas of the group and its austerely geometrical style was his dominant interest. He went on an extended lecture tour outside the Netherlands in 1921 and his ideas made a considerable impression at the Bauhaus, where he taught irregularly from 1922 to 1924. In 1930 he moved to Paris and built himself a studio at Meudon that became a new focus of the De Stijl movement. The movement collapsed with his death in 1931, but its influence survived in many fields, notably architecture, where his ideal was the use of geometrically simple elements and primary colours. His writings include several books and many articles in De Stijl.
Oxford Dictionary of Art

1883 Born 30th August, Utrecht.
1912 Writes art criticism.
1914 Joins army, serves on Belgian frontier. Meets poet Antony Kok and discusses the idea of publishing a magazine.
1915 Corresponds with Mondrian
1916 Discharged from army. Settles in Leiden and meets architect JJP Oud. Paints geometric abstraction of landscape and still-life subjects.
1917 Founds de Stijl. First issue of magazine published in October. Designs colour schemes and stained glass windows for buildings by Oud and Wils. First neoplastic works using coloured rectangles.
1920 Begins publishing dadaist poems. Travels to Berlin. Meets Hans Richter and Viking Eggeling and sees their first abstract films.
1921 Publishes his dadaist "anti-philosophy" in De Stijl using the pseudonym Aldo Camini. Develops architectural colour theories in designs for middle-class housing and agriculture school in Drachten, Holland.
1922 Teaches at the Bauhaus, Weimar. Begins to concentrate on architecture. Begins publication of dadaist magazine Mecano. Hosts International Congress of Constructivists and Dadaists, Weimar.
1923 Moves to Paris. Collaborates with Cornells van Eesteren on architectural drawings and models for the De Stijl architecture exhibition held at L�once Rosenberg's Galerie l'Effort Moderne, Paris.
1924 Develops theory of Elementarism. Makes first countercompositions.
1926 Publishes manifesto of Elementarism. Begins collaboration with Jean Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp on interiors for the Cafe Aubette, Strasbourg.
1929-30 Builds house in Meudon, France.
1931 Participates in the founding of "Abstraction-Creation" group in Paris. Dies of heart attack on 7 March, Davos, Switzerland.

Compositie IV, 1917

Composition XXII, 1920-22

Countercomposition V, 1924

Simultaneous Countercomposition, 1929-30

see also tile design for Oud
Bart van der Leck
Bart van der Leck

Dutch painter and designer. After working for eight years in stained-glass studios, he studied painting in Amsterdam, 1900-4. His early work was influenced by art Nouveau and Impressionism, but from about 1910 he developed a more personal style characterized by simplified and stylized forms: his work remained representational, but he eliminated perspective and reduced his figures (which included labourers, soldiers, and women going to market) to sharply delineated geometrical forms in primary colours. In 1916 he met Mondrian and in 1917 was one of the founders of De Stijl. At this time his work was purely abstract, featuring geometrically disposed bars and rectangles in a style close to Mondrian and van Doesburg. However, he found the dogmatism of the movement uncongenial and left it in 1918, reverting to geometrically simplified figural subjects. In the 1920s he became interested in textile design and during the 1930s and 1940s he extended his interests to ceramics and interior decoration, experimenting with the effects of colour on the sense of space. His work can best be seen at the Rijksmuseum Kr�ller-M�ller, Otterlo.

1876 Born 26 November, Utrecht.
1905 Collaborates with P.J.C. Klaarhamer on book illustrations. Contact with H.P. Berlage.
1912 Begins stylizing forms and using flat planes of colour.
1916 Moves to Laren. Meets Mondrian, van Doesburg, Huszar and Dr. M.H.J. Schoenmaekers. Designs interior colour scheme for Villa Kr�ller-M�ller, Otterlo. Paints nearly abstract Mine Triptych.
1917 Participates in founding of De Stijl. Paints nonobjective "compositions."
1918 Leaves De Stijl. Returns to painting abstractions based on observed subjects.
1928 Begins designing textiles for Metz & Co., Amsterdam.
1949 Retrospective exhibition at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
1958 Dies in Blaricum, The Netherlands.

Bart van der Leck page
van der Leck

van der Leck
Mine Triptych, 1916

van der Leck
Horseman, 1918
Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud

1890 Born Purmerend, The Netherlands.
1916-17 Collaborates with van Doesburg on the design of two houses: a vacation house "De Vonk" at Noordwijkerhout, and "Villa Allegonda" at Katwijk. Designs Strandboulevard Apartments (unrealized). Participates in founding of De Stijl.
1918 Appointed City Architect for Rotterdam. Begins designing Spangen housing projects.
1919 Designs factory for Purmerend (unrealized).
1921 Breaks with van Doesburg and withdraws from De Stijl.
1925 Designs the Cafe De Unie, Rotterdam.
1927 Designs housing for Weissenhofsiedlung Exposition, Stuttgart.
1937-42 Designs office building for Shell-Nederland, The Hague.
1963 Dies, The Hague.
De Vonk holiday residence, Noordwijkerhout, 1917
Photographed 1981

Tiles for De Vonk house by van Doesburg

Cafe De Unie, 1925
Jan Wils

1891 Born 22 February, Alkmaar, The Netherlands.
1914 Employed in H.P. Berlage's architectural firm.
1916 Meets van Doesburg.
1917 Establishes independent architectural practice, Voorburg. Participates in founding of De Stijl. Collaborates with van Doesburg in design of a town house, Alkmaar.
1920 Designs Papaverhof middle-class housing, The Hague.
1928 Designs Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam.
1972 Dies, Voorburg, The Netherlands.
Het City Theater, 1935
Robert van't Hoff

1887 Born 8 November, Rotterdam.
1913-14 Travels to United States. Meets Frank Lloyd Wright.
1914-16 Returns to Holland. Designs and builds houses at Huis-ter-Heide which are strongly influenced by Wright.
1916 Meets Theo van Doesburg and J.J.P. Oud.
1917 Participates in founding of De Stijl.
1919 Withdraws from De Stijl.
1937 Moves to England.
1979 Dies 25 April, England.
Henny house at Huis-ter-Heide, 1916
photographed 1981
Vilmos Huszar

1884 Born Budapest, Hungary.
1905 Emigrates to Holland; settles in Voorburg.
1917 Participates in founding of De Stijl with Mondrian. Designs De Stijl magazine cover.
1918 Designs color applications for bedroom of Bruynzeel house, Voorburg.
1920-21 Collaborates with Piet Zwart on furniture designs.
1923 Leaves De Stijl. Collaborates with Rietveld on exhibition interior for Greater Berlin Art Exhibition.
1925 Pursues work in graphic design and paintings.
1960 Dies in Hierden, The Netherlands.


Hammer and Saw, 1919
Georges Vantongerloo

Belgian sculptor, painter, architect, and writer on art
After being wounded in the First World War he was interned from 1914 to 1918 in the Netherlands. There he joined the De Stijl group in 1917 and turned from the conventionally naturalistic style he had previously practised to abstract sculptures in which he applied that principles of Neo-Plasticism to three dimensions. In 1919-27 he lived at Menton and then for the rest of his life in Paris, where he was involved in the Cercle et Carr� and Abstraction-Cr�ation groups. From 1928 he designed architectural projects and in the 1940s he began using wire and perspex in his sculpture, exploring effects of light. His paintings were based on horizontal and vertical lines until 1937, when he introduced rhythmic curving lines. Vantongerloo was one of the pioneers of the mathematical approach to abstract art. He rejected his friend Mondrian�s idea that only constructions based on the right angle reflect the harmony of the universe, believing that this is only one way among many of achieving the formal relations that embody spiritual values. His work is represented in many major collections of modern art.

1886 Born 24 November, Antwerp, Belgium.
1915 Meets Theo van Doesburg.
1917 Creates first abstract sculptures. Participates in the founding of De Stijl.
1919-27 Lives in Menton, France.
1921 Withdraws from De Stijl.
1924 Creates first sculptures based on mathematical formulas.
1927 Moves to Paris.
1931 Member of "Abstraction-Creation" group, Paris.
1965 Dies in Paris.

Triptiek, 1921

Study, Brussels, 1918
oil on canvas>
Poster for Rietveld exhibition, Central Museum, Utrecht, 1958.

Gerrit Rietveld

Rietveld was a cabinet-maker and later an architect. His most famous creations are the Red/blue chair and the End table. I am also fond of his Hanging lamp (1920) (blueprint here): this features in the design of a consulting room for Dr. A. M. Hartog (1922), of which only the photograph remains.

The chair design was first published in the De Stijl magazine in 1919 (II, 11). That design featured pentagonal side panels which were later removed. It was also unpainted in the original: it has been suggested that van Doesburg proposed the colour scheme (Friedman p. 130). The same article states that it is less uncomfortable than it appears.

It is reported that Rietveld and Mondrian never met (although Rietveld was a member of de Stijl from 1919 until 1928 and Mondrian from 1917 to 1924). Whether or not this is the case and whatever their mutual and individual influences, it is worth noting that Mondrian did not arrive at primary colour blocks until the late 1920s.

1888 Born Utrecht
1911 Opens cabinet shop in Utrecht. Begins to study architecture with PJC Klaarhamer. Meets Bart van der Leck.
1918 Constructs the red/blue chair. Meets Robert van't Hoff, Theo van Doesburg and other members of De Stijl.
1919 Designs sideboard based on neoplastic principles. Joins De Stijl. Established independent architectural practice.
1921 Begins collaboration with Mrs Truus Schröder-Schräder.
1923 Collaborated with Huszar on design for Freater Berlin Art Exhibition. Participates in De Stijl architecture exhibition at Léonce Rosenberg's Galerie l'Effort Moderne, Paris.
1924-25 Designs and builds house in collaberation with Mrs Truus Schröder-Schräder.
1928 Participates in the founding of C.I.A.M. (International Congress of Modern Architecture).
1928-64 Receives many international architectural commissions.
1964 Dies 25 June, Utrecht.

The house deserves a page of its own, but I'll leave that to someone else. Commissioned in 1923 by Rietveld's collaborant Mrs Truus Schröder-Schräder, the house was built at the end of a row of standard terraced housing


Red/blue chair, 1918,
painted wood

End table, 1923
painted wood

Hanging lamp, 1920

Study for the office of Dr. A. M. Hartog, 1922

Rietveld Schröder house,
photographed 1925

Rietveld Schröder house (restored),
photographed 1981
Sophie Taeuber-Arp

1889 Born 19 January, Davos, Switzerland.
1916-29 Teaches textile design at School of Applied Arts, Zurich.
1916 Participates in founding of Zurich Dada group.
1926 Collaborates with Jean Arp and van Doesburg on design of Cafe Aubette, Strasbourg.
1931 Joins "Abstraction-Creation" group, Paris.
1943 Dies 13 January, Zurich.
Jean (Hans) Arp

1887 Born 16 September, Strasbourg.
1916 Participates in founding of Zurich Dada group.
1917 First abstract wood reliefs.
1925 Publishes Die Kunst-Ismen with El Lissitzky.
1926 Settles in Paris. Meets Mondrian and Michel Seuphor. Begins collaboration with van Doesburg and Sophie Taeuber-Arp for design of Cafe Aubette, Strasbourg.
1931 Joins "Abstraction-Creation" group, Paris.
1966 Dies in Basel, Switzerland.

Most of the information and illustrations on this page come from two books on the De Stijl movement,

De Stijl: The Formative Years and De Stijl 1917-1931 Visions of Utopia.

The original (2002) version of the page comprised mostly quotes from the Oxford Dictionary of Art obtained from a site which no longer exists.

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Original page 2001, rewritten October 2010
images 200 wide