One Century De Stijl

Piet van der Leck (1876-1958), Havenarbeid II, 1916. Kröller-Müller museum Arnhem. Photo: Gemeentemuseum Den Haag.

The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the magazine De Stijl. Place of birth was Laren, a small town in the Dutch province Noord-Holland, date of birth (the first official announcement): 25 November 1917. De Stijl became an icon of modernity throughout Europe and the world . Its timing and place, amidst a destructive European war, is not a coincidence, like the Dada movement in neutral Switzerland in 2016 shows. The Netherlands was also neutral and a radical new approach of the arts in ´old Europe´ seemed inevitable (in vain, because the worst was still to come in the decades ahead). The centenary will be celebrated with a year-long programme of events. No fewer than three separate exhibitions will be held at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague and many more exhibitions and events will take place throughout the country.

The art movement De Stijl was named after the magazine De Stijl (founded by the artist Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931), because the first contributors of the magazine were Piet Mondriaan (1872-1944) and Piet van der Leck (1876-1958). They introduced their new and radical philosophy of art in this magazine. Although their ideas and first experiments already existed before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the anticlimax of this war undoubtedly accelerated the introduction of their abstraction, geometrical shapes and use of the primary colour combinations blue, red and yellow. The Dutch art and design movement De Stijl was born and was about to conquer Europe (and the world) as an art movement and not by military means. (Further information: www.holland.com/global/tourism/interests/holland-stories/mondrian-to-dutch-design.htm).