The Museum of Avant-garde

De Stijl / Neoplasticism

Born in 1917 in The Netherlands as a reaction to WWI, De Stijl art meant to uncover the universal laws that govern the world, abandoning any interest for the individual. Its expression relied on linear and stripped-back elements, straight lines and surfaces and primary colours, in the quest or utopian desire for a newly ordered and harmonious world. Simply meaning ‘The Style’ in Dutch, De Stijl published the homonymous journal to present its philosophy and intent: with Theo van Doesburg – its first theorist and editor – collaborated artists such as Piet Mondrian, J.J.P. Oud and Ilya Bolotwsky. From 1917 Piet Mondrian developed De Stijl original ideas into Neoplasticism, calling for art to reveal the world in stability, balancing horizontal and vertical axes, asymmetric grids and juxtaposed primary colours. Van Doesburg responded with a different take and developed its principles in the Elementarism: also based on the same ‘building blocks’, it allowed diagonal lines to introduce a temporal dimension – the dynamic component representing a continuous development in the world’s balance and order. This idea caused Mondrian to abandon De Stijl and a schism within the movement. Its legacy however continued over many years and heavily influenced other movements such as Bauhaus.


Max Burchartz
Theo Van Doesburg
César Domela
Vilmos Huszár
Bart van der Leck
Farkas Molnár
Piet Mondriaan
Enrico Prampolini
Gerrit Rietveld
Paul Schuitema
Henryk Stażewski
Georges Vantongerloo
Piet Zwart