De Stijl at Pompidou: Piet Mondrian & Theo Van Doesburg
Forgive my absence for the past week but the many international crises that are shaking the world at the moment deserved a moment of silence and thinking to all those whose lives have been distressed, in Japan particularly.
Art is a moving medium that sometimes brings peace, harmony, beauty and hope to all, and I thought therefore more appropriate to write about art for the few current articles, than about the sometimes perceived superficiality of fashion fads.
I visited the acclaimed Pompidou exhibition about De Stijl last week in Paris, the very first in France to shed light on this key moment in the history of 20th century art, and abstract art in general.
De Stijl, the Dutch movement, combined an aesthetic and social vision, total art, which aim was to radically revolutionise art and eventually influence crossover disciplines such as painting, sculpture, city planning, architecture, furniture design and graphic design.
The exhibition chronologically retraces the obsessions of its pioneers – Piet Mondrian, Theo Van Doesburg, Gerrit Rietvield – from trees, to oceans, to graphic squares and primary colours, with a very few semi-cubist figurative representations in between.
It is clear through this evolution that Theo Van Doesburg is the relatively unknown genius from whose mind the famous Mondrian squares originated – albeit on stained glass at first. This exhibition gives him some of the recognition he deserves, since he got overshadowed by his more widely publicised contemporary, Piet Mondrian, who took credit for the “new abstract visual language” De Stijl had then created.
Picture credit: Theo Van Doesburg, Counter-Composition XVI in dissonances, 1925.