The Museum of Avant-garde

Theo Van Doesburg

The Netherlands (1883—1931)
Having trained initially as an actor and singer, Van Doesburg started to exhibit his paintings in 1908, supporting himself by writing for magazines. In writing a review on an exhibition, he discovered Mondrian’s work. In 1917 he founded with him the De Stijl movement and publishing the magazine until 1931. He was also interested in Constructivism and Dada, and contributed to journals such as Mécano. In the early ‘20s he tried to become a member of Bauhaus but despite lecturing his ideas, Gropius never invited him to join the faculty. He also created a typeface used in children’s book with Schwitters. In 1923 he moved to Paris to work with Mondrian but their relationship somehow suffered from this closeness and van Doesburg took a different direction, defining his Elementarism in paintings such as Counter-Compositions series. Van Doesburg also brought De Stijl from canvas to architecture and decorative arts, working with J.J. Oud and van Easterern. In 1926 he redesigned the Aubette Building in Strasburg, involving Hans and Sophie Tauber Arp. In 1929 he helped to create a new group Art Concret, for which he wrote the manifesto and contributed to editing its journal. He died in 1931 of heart attack.