De Stijl

Emerging from the Netherlands in 1917, De Stijl is explained as an art movement that involved an abstract yet simplified aesthetic; including geometric forms and primary colours. De Stijl (or “the style” in Dutch), was birthed in response to the horrors of World War I and the dream of remaking society, afterwards. Art was perceived as affording social and spiritual redemption, and “the members of De Stijl embraced a utopian vision of art and its transformative potential.” It was, in part, a reaction against the extravagance of Art Deco as well, and was intended to be a widely-used and appropriate visual language in the modern and highly spiritualized age.

42_destijl01 Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red, Painting, 1937-42

Led by its most celebrated proponents, painters Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian, De Stijl artists worked with a variety of media and within diverse fields. “Promoting their innovative ideas in their journal of the same name, the members envisioned nothing less than the ideal fusion of form and function, thereby making De Stijl in effect the ultimate style.” As such, the movement’s artists engaged themselves in varying fine arts, as well as industrial design, typography, even literature and music. In architecture, which would include works by another key member, Gerrit Reitveld, De Stijl would realize its greatest influence, as it was embraced at the Bauhaus and also propelled the rise of the International Style of the 1920s and 1930s.

It was mainly architecture that realized both De Stijl’s stylistic aims and its goal of close collaboration among the arts. The Worker’s Housing Estate in Hoek van Holland (1924–27), designed by Jacobus Johannes Pieter Oud, expresses the same clarity, austerity, and order found in a Mondrian painting. Rietveld also applied its stylistic principles in his work; the Schröder House in Utrecht (1924), for example, resembles a Mondrian painting in the severe purity of its facade and in its interior plan.

1024px-Rietveld_Schröderhuis_HayKranen-20 Gerrit Reitveld, Schröder House, Architecture, 1924

Even though De Stijl artists created work embodying the movement’s utopian vision, their realization that this vision was unattainable in the real world essentially brought about the group’s demise. Ultimately, De Stijl’s continuing fame is largely the result of the enduring achievement of its best-known member and true modern master, Piet Mondrian.

Works influenced/inspired by Art Deco

modern_destijl_by_violetgraphica-d38uc8w Bouchra, Modern Destilj, Digital art, 2010

icopy___modern_style_de_stijl_by_staticx99 Alex Lafleur Beauchemin, iCopy – Modern style De Stijl, Digital art, 2009


De Stijl. (2014). Retrieved November 2, 2015, from

De Stijl. (2015). Retrieved November 2, 2015, from

De Stijl. (n.d.). Retrieved November 2, 2015, from


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