Art. Loads of it.

Category: Profile

Profile: De Stijl

De Stijl is also known as Neoplasticism or ‘Mondrian-style’ with people who don’t know much about art history.

De Stijl was founded in 1917 by Theo van Doesburg. De Stijl emerged from the first world war, so the Dutch artists (The Netherlands were neutral in WO I) didn’t have a lot of contact with foreign artists. De Stijl was a way for Dutch artists to get in touch with each other, because De Stijl wasn’t just a movement or style, it was also a magazine!

Cover of one of the first editions of De Stijl.

Neoplasticism means ‘new way to image something’. And that new way, is to reduce everything to straight lines, and primary colours. Pure abstraction. This is pretty radical for this time, because there was only Der Blaue Reiter, a substyle of Expressionism which made images of pure abstraction on canvas. De Stijl was an idea from the artists to bring back balance in the world, and to eradicate  the horrible things there were going on in the world. De Stijl is a reaction to world war 1.

Our friend Mondrian was very dedicated to De Stijl, and he really lived up to the ‘rules’ of De Stijl. He believes in the balance of horizontal and vertical lines combined with primary colours, white, black and grey. To make his work more balanced and estethic, he put the golden section in a lot of his works. Some examples of Mondrian’s paintings:

Composition  no. 12  or Composition with blue (1936-1942)

Composition with Red, Blue and Yellow (1937-1942)

Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942-1943)

Theo van Doesburg didn’t really live up that much to the ‘rules’ of De Stijl. He had no problems with some green and some diagonals, he even gave the name ”elementarism” to his more free paintings. Elementarism has the same principals as De Stijl though, you can call it a substyle. Take a look.

Counter-Composition with Disonances XVI (1925)

The Cow (1918)

Mondrian was so pissed at van Doesburg’s diagonals and his elementarism that he left De Stijl. That’s how dedicated he was.

There are a lot of other De Stijl artists though. On this picture you can see van Doesburg (right) and van Eesteren (left).

All those other painter’s had their own creativity and thoughts on De Stijl, which makes De Stijl so special. It goes back to the essence of art, and even with so many rules, the works are still so very different. That’s probably the thing that fascinates me the most about De Stijl. So many options, so much creativity and differences between artists.

Bart van der Leck – Composition no. 4 (1916)

César Domela – Neoplastic Relief no. 10 (1930)

And over the last 100 years, people still look up to De Stijl, though a lot of people only see the lines and the primary colours. But it’s so much more than that.

And to end this post, I would like to show you a serie of dresses from Yves Saint Laurent in 1965.

Profile: Johannes Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer was born in october 1632 in Delft, Dutch Republic (now The Netherlands).

There are 34 works universally attributed to him. In other words, he has 34 paintings that are very famous. Some only amongst people who are common with art history, but others like the Milkmaid and Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Vermeer only used paintings, and you could call his works Baroque, but baroque is a very wide and complex word. If we split it up into two pieces, the (catholic) contrareformatorical baroque and the (protestant) classical baroque, Vermeer would fit the ‘rules’ of the classical variant. Dutch baroque, like Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen and Frans Hals. (Dutch baroque is always classical.)

Vermeer has a very notable signature:

It’s not his full last name, nor his front name. Some have very different interpretations of the thing he did with the M, but all I know is that it looks unique and different. And to quote Chanel’s Karl Lagerfield, I can say ”In order to be beatiful, one must always be different.”

Vermeer’s first paintings contain mythological and religious stories and images. In his later works, you see that he is more inspired by the normal and the everyday life. Though he drew it more beautiful than it probably was. Like some of his landscape paintings. For example View of Delft (1660-1661)

Another thing you can see in Vermeer’s paintings that he perfers dead colouring. That means he uses a lot of browns and greys. Though in only some objects in his paintings he does use more saturated colours like blues, yellows and reds. For example

The Girl with the Wine Glass (1659-1660)

Vermeer was not the only one who used this contrast, but it really stands out in a lot of his works. Of course there is also this typical contrast in his most famous and important paintings : The Milkmaid and The Girl with a Pearl Earring.

One of my favourite Vermeers is probably Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window.

Mainly, because it is multi-interpretable. You don’t know what kind of letter she is reading. She could be reading a letter from her boyfriend, or she could be reading a letter from her mother, that her father has past away. You don’t know who the girl is. You can assume she is a maid by judging by her clothes, because it’s not really frivolous, which is typical for the Baroque era. But yeah, what can you say, maybe it’s her morning gown, or she’s just poor. I love the complementary contrast in the carpet (or what is it?) and the curtain. It really stands out, though both colours are not very satured.

It’s sad that Vermeer died when he was 43 years old. He could’ve made so much more wonderful art if he were to become older than that.

Vermeer is one of the most accomplished artists in history. I admire him a lot.