What was De Stijl?
This fascinating survey, the most comprehensive book to be published on the subject, seeks to unravel that question and to consider how the theory of De Stijl (Dutch for "The Style") matched its actual practice.
There are various answers: De Stijl was a magazine; De Stijl was an art movement; and De Stijl was an idea, a world view, and an approach to life. And from the 1930s onwards, De Stijl was recognized internationally as the most important contribution to modern culture made by The Netherlands.
It is associated with such instantly recognizable objects as the radical geometric abstract paintings of Piet Mondrian, with their perpendicular relationships and primary colors; the dynamic architectural drawings of Theo van Doesburg, which explode the conventional box-like structure of a building and show it as interpenetrating spaces unfolding in time; and the experimental furniture of Gerrit Rietveld, who took the most familiar of objects, the armchair, and reconfigured it as a series of self-supporting planks and struts.
In each case, the artists, architects and designers seem to have had a common aspiration to work together to forge a new cultural consensus and "style" for the modern age. In The Story of De Stijl, which draws extensively on original sources, the authors challenge the understanding of De Stijl as a coherent movement, presenting a series of "scenes" focused on crucial turning points in the history of De Stijl and bringing to the foreground the key relationships and interactions that brought De Stijl to life. It is profusely illustrated with a range of images, many previously unseen, from artworks and buildings to photographs, letters, and documents, that, along with anecdotes, articles, and even footnotes combine to convey the texture of the world De Stijl emerged from.
This accessible yet authoritative account is set to become the standard reference work on an important and fascinating modern movement.