An extraordinary exhibition. Mondrian and De Stijl at the Reina Sofía

More information

Curators
Hans Janssen.
Management
Belén Diaz de Rábago and Beatriz Jordana.
Organization
Museo Reina Sofía and Stichting Kunstmuseum den Haag.
Dates
11 November, 2020 - 1 March, 2021.
Venue / Adress
Sabatini Building, Floor 1. Calle de Santa Isabel, 52, 28012 Madrid, Spain.

Piet Mondrian

Piet Cornelis Mondriaan. (Amersfoort, 7 March 1872 - New York, 1 February 1944). Pieter Cornelis "Piet" Mondriaan, after 1906 Mondrian, was a contributor to the De Stijl art movement and group, which was founded by Theo van Doesburg. He evolved a non-representational form which he termed neoplasticism. This consisted of white ground, upon which he painted a grid of vertical and horizontal black lines and the three primary colors.

Piet Mondrian’s name is linked to the Dutch Neo-Plasticist group associated with the periodical De Stijl. His conception that art should be represented through the straight line and pure colours as a symbol of the expression of the cosmic order made him one of the major advocates of abstraction and one of the most admired and influential artists of the twentieth century. Mondrian trained as a compulsory education drawing teacher and in 1892 enrolled at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, where he began to mix with the art groups of the day. His first works were serene landscapes painted in delicate shades of grey, mauve and dark green, and in 1908, influenced by the painter Jan Toorop, he began to experiment with brighter colours.

In 1912 Mondrian moved to Paris, where he met Fernand Léger and Georges Braque, among others. His spell in the French capital prompted him to adopt the Cubist style, from which he gradually turned towards abstraction. The outbreak of the First World War forced him to remain in the Netherlands, where he met Bart van der Leck and Theo van Doesburg. In 1917, along with the two painters and a group of young architects and artists, he founded the De Stijl magazine, which until 1924 provided him with a vehicle for disseminating Neo-Plasticism, an art that sought to represent the absolute truths of the universe. From this point onwards Mondrian’s painting was expressed solely through planes of primary colours and straight lines. When Van Doesburg introduced the diagonal into his compositions in 1925, Mondrian left the group for good.

Mondrian later collaborated with the Cercle et Carré group established by Michel Seuphor in 1929 and joined August Herbin’s group Abstraction-Création in 1931. In 1938 he emigrated to London and in the autumn of 1940, after the air raids on the city and the German occupation of Paris, he decided to take up the American painter Harry Holtzman’s offer to go to New York. In America his style lost its previous rigidity, influenced by the intrinsic movement of the seething metropolis, its skyscrapers and jazz, and acquired a greater freedom and a livelier rhythm. 

Theo VAN DOESBURG

(Pseudonym of Christian Emil Marie Küpper, Utrecht, 1883 - Davos, 1931) Architect, painter and Dutch art theorist, one of the creators of neoplasticism. After some figurative beginnings according to the form of the fauves, it was centered, influenced by Kandinsky, in a form of geometric abstraction. Mondrian's friend since 1915, he founded the group and the magazine De Stijl (1917). He also collaborated in architectural projects and wrote theoretical texts (Fundamental Principles of the New Plastic Arts, 1925), as well as carrying out an important propagandistic role and diffusion of the main artistic centers. His subsequent evolution made him a key reference point for the abstract groups of the 1930s; To him it is due the project of the Abstraction-Creation group.

In 1918, the same year that Tristan Tzara wrote the Dada Manifesto, Theo Van Doesburg and other Dutch painters and artists, such as Piet Mondrian, published the Manifesto of Neoplasticism, totally antagonistic to the Dadaist. If the Dadaists wanted to destroy art, the Dutch wanted their total renovation. Faced with intuition, irrationality and chance, they opposed the ordering reason, capable of creating a style of simple and clear forms, characterized by the use of primary colors and applicable to all plastic manifestations. Van Doesburg's commitment was made in the defense of a utopia that was both rationalist and humanistic, especially in his projects of interior decoration, which included painting and architecture.

In 1924 he published in the Bauhaus Principles of Neoplastic Art and gave various lectures in Europe. In that same year he rebelled against Mondrian's programmatic insistence on the use of only vertical and horizontal lines, making his first Counter-position, in which he introduced the diagonals and began a new direction of neoplasticism, which is known as elementarism. Mondrian would consider this attitude of Van Doesburg heretical and began his estrangement from the De Stijl group. In the early 1930s he became the driving force behind the new Parisian abstract group called Abstraction-Creation.

Theo Van Doesburg carried out interior decoration projects, generally in collaboration with other artists, in which continuities or chromatic breaks articulate the spaces and dynamize them by integrating a visually inseparable color-architecture unit. Together with Van Eesteren he made several projects, among them the lobby of the University of Amsterdam (1923) and the decoration for Café L'Aubette de Strasbourg (1928), made with the collaboration of Hans Arp and Sophie Täuber, for The one that conceived the articulation of walls and ceilings through great bas-reliefs. In them the game of diagonals promoted links between the different surfaces and established a continuity between the various spaces of the rooms.

FREDERICK KIESLER

Frederick Kiesler was an architect, a stage designer and an artist. In 1920 he worked with Adolf Loos in Vienna, and it was as a member of the De Stijl group that he began to experiment with innovative stage sets and designs.

In 1924 he developed the concept of “infinity”, involving the creation of a space contained within a double-curved concrete spiral shell which – apparently endlessly – offered an interior that could be freely modified. In order to better adapt the concept of the endless house to a stage setting, Kiesler devised a stage consisting of a double spiral interconnecting both elements by means of rings and ramps where the audience was to sit.

Kiesler believed that this “endless stage”, devoid of proscenium or curtain and leaning out towards the spectator, would, by means of the perpetual movement of the walls and imbued by the changing hues of the lighting, encourage ongoing interaction between the spectator and the audience. In 1925, Kiesler designed the Austrian Pavilion for the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in Paris. In 1926 he emigrated to the United States of America, where he was to design New York’s Film Guild Cinema in 1929 and the Universal Theater in 1933.

Immediately after his arrival to the United States, he was associated to the Surrealists, and in fact he designed the installations for the International Surrealist Exhibition held in Paris in 1947. He also designed Peggy Guggenheim’s “Art of this Century Gallery” in 1957. Between 1959 and 1960 his maquette titled “Endless House” was exhibited at the MoMA. One of his last designs, and a very relevant one, was the Shrine of the Book, which he undertook jointly with Armand Bartos between 1959 and 1965 for the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Gerrit Rietveld

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (June 24, 1888, Utrecht, The Netherlands - June 25, 1964, Utrecht, The Netherlands) was one of the highest representatives of the Neo-plasticism movement. At the age of eleven he began to work with wood as an apprentice in the carpentry workshop of his father, Johannes Cornelis Rietveld, from whom he gained the knowledge to transform materials at the same time as his perfectionist and rigorous character. In 1906 Gerrit Rietveld continued his career as a designer with the jeweler C.J.A Begger in Utrech, at the same time he attended the night school of arts and crafts where he followed the lessons of the designer and architect P.J. Klaarhamer. After a few years, in 1911, he started his own furniture workshop, which allowed him to free himself of the existing styles and the opportunity to put his ideas into his works. That same year began his studies in architecture, graduating in 1919.

Influenced by his friendship with Theo de Doesburg, which he met in 1919, he joined De Stijl movement, forming part of the artistic movement alongside Piet Mondrian. Through this movement they spread the Neo-plasticism, a discipline that based itself on the use of primary colors (red, blue and yellow, besides the white and the black with their intermediate shades of grey), angular geometric forms and asymmetrical compositions of vertical and horizontal planes. All these fundamentals were synthesized in order, harmony, rigor and simplicity by Gerrit Rietveld, who transmitted in his works his personality, characterized by his originality and personal ethics.

All these aspects are reflected in his artistic production, such as his design of the Red and Blue Chair in 1918, the first expression of his language, where he reduces the object to its meaning and inherent function, erasing any type of ornamentation. He expresses his concern to reduce the furniture to the essential, representing in its works their own essence.

But he did not only do furniture, after his collaboration with Truss Schröder-Schräder, his participation in 1923 in the architecture exhibition LÉffort Moderne in Paris and his collaboration with Vilmos Huzar in the design of the Berlin art exhibition in 1924, together with Mrs. Gertrude A. Schröder-Schräder they designed the Schröder House in Utrech, Holland. This was considered one of the culminating architecture works of the 20th century, being considered one of the most important works of his career, since he involved his skills in design and composition, materializing the Neo-plasticism thought. He began as an architect, having a great attraction for small houses, especially those of a social nature.

In 1928 he joined the International Congress of Modern Architecture, (CIAM). That same year he broke with the De Stijl movement, joining the Nieuwe Zakelijkheid, where he addressed themes of rationalism in architecture, especially the quest for modularity.

Among his most important architectural projects we find the Zeist House, 1932, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, 1934, the Van Den Doel House, 1958, the Van Slobbe House, 1963 and the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

JUNG METALOCUS

Categories

Prev
Prev

Our selection