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CONTENTS

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WHEN DID IT ALL BEGIN? WHO WERE THE PIONEERS?

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CHARACTERISTICS OF NEO-PLASTICISM

WHEN DID THE MOVEMENT START?

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27 ARCHITECTURE INSPIRED BY DESTIJL

THE DESTIJL TYPEFACE

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31 HOW HAS DESTIJL CHANGED?

WHO ELSE WAS INSPIRED BY DESTIJL?


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WHEN DID IT ALL BEGIN? Twentieth century art is seen by many as a series of movements evolving from either an opposition to or an extension of concepts of previous movements. While some movements quickly pass the newness stage in their lifespans, their philosophies continue to live on, even though greater attention may be given to even newer movements. In the case of De Stijl and NeoPlasticism, the theoretical end of this “life span� came with the deaths of two of its founders, Piet Mondrian and Theo Van Doesburg. Here we explore the fascinating art movement and its influences on contemporary culture.


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THE M D I D WHEN

ART? T S T N OVEME


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WHO WERE THE PIONEERS?

pi et mondri an Dutch pioneer of abstract art, who developed from early landscape pictures to geometric abstract works of a most rigorous kind. Born in Amersfoort, Utrecht. Studied painting at the Amsterdam Academy 1892-4 and again, parttime, 1896-7. Friendship with the painter Simon Mans and painted landscapes in the Hague School tradition. He joined the Theosophic Organisation in 1909 and made some works of a Symbolist character. First one-man exhibition with C.R.H. Spoor and Jan Sluyters at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1909. Lived in Paris 191214; was influenced by Cubism, which he carried to the point of abstraction. Returned to Holland in 1914 and step by step evolved a more simplified abstract style which he called Neo-Plasticism, restricted to the three primary colours and to a grid of black vertical and horizontal lines on a white ground; associated with van Doesburg in the de Stijl movement 1917-25. Lived 1919-38 in Paris where he joined the group Abstraction-CrĂŠation in 1931. Moved to London 1938-40, living near Gabo and Ben Nicholson, then in 1940 to New York where he started to develop a more colourful style, with coloured lines and syncopated rhythms. Died in New York.

1872-1944


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Theo van Doesburg Dutch painter, architect, designer and writer. Little is known of his early life, but he began painting naturalistic subjects With the mobilisation of the Dutch forces following the outbreak of World War I, van Doesburg was sent to Tilburg near the Belgian front. Almost immediately he began to contemplate and organize a new periodical, De stijl: Maandblad voor nieuwe kunst, wetenschap en kultuur, not to be fully realised for another two years. In 1916 van Doesburg participated in the foundation of the artists' associations De Anderen and De Sphinx. He met other like-minded artists, and even such architects as J. J. P. Oud. In August 1916 Oud commissioned him to design a stained-glass window. This commission was followed by numerous others in stained glass. He produced series of drawings from a single subject where the heavy, emphatic outline was progressively ‘essentialised' to a minimum of horizontal and vertical lines bounding coloured planes. This technique of painterly composition lent itself admirably to the creation of stainedglass windows. From 1925 van Doesburg intended to build a studio-house. It marked his transition from painter to architect. Unfortunately, before the house was finished, he died of a heart attack following a bout of asthma. Shortly before his death he published his first and only issue of Art concret and was involved in planning a new group of artists, the emergent Abstraction–Création.

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1883–1931


THE DESTIJL TYPEFACE

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A B I J K R S T Z a a 3 4 5 b

C D L M U V a e 6 7 Theo van Doesburg and Richard Kegler’s De Stijl typeface, is rooted in the geometric concept of the square.


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D E F G H M N O P O V W X Y e i 0 1 2 7 8 9 s

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CHARACTERISTICS OF NEO-PLASTICISM

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The rules of this artform were designed to produce pure, uncompromising, heavily structured abstraction, in accordance with Mondrian's view that vertical and horizontal patterns were inherently harmonious.

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Only geometric shapes may be used; ignore natural form and colour.


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Main compositional elements to be straight lines or rectangular areas.

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No curves, no diagonals, no circles.

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Primary colours only (red, blue, yellow), plus black, grey and white.


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Balance is attained by relationships between geometrical motifs.


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In addition, bold colours should balance bold direct lines.


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ARCHITECTURE INSPIRED BY DESTIJL

Home Design by Hughes Umbanhowar Architects

The Rietveld Schröder House

Café De Unie, JJP Oud


The Bauhaus Gropius

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Carmel by Pitsou Kedem Architects

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WHO ELSE WAS INSPIRED BY DESTIJL?

Burgoyne Diller De Stijl and Neo-Plasticism were late arrivals to the American art scene in terms of its development as an art movement. Only through a few select gallery and museum exhibitions were American artists introduced to the works of European artists including that of Piet Mondrian and Theo Van Doesburg. The few drawn to the new plastic way of seeing had already established roots in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting. Burgoyne Diller was the first noteworthy American painter to embrace the tenets of NeoPlasticism. Diller was already on his way to making an important contribution to the development of non-objective art in the United States and his works were the footers in the foundation that lead to the development of the Minimalism movement of the mid 20th century. Born in New York in 1906, yet raised in Michigan, he began

painting and drawing as a teenager. Periodic trips to the Art Institute of Chicago proved monumental in his development – he found himself drawn to the Impressionist paintings and their use of color and composition to create volume on a two dimensional surface. Moving to New York City in 1929 and enrolling in the Arts Students League exposed him to progressive working artist’s work and the growing popularity of Cubism, German Expressionism and other Avant-garde styles. As is true with many artists, Diller’s work did not receive great recognition until after his death in 1965. His work is now considered a fundamental addition to the development of Abstract art and has been the subject of a number of important museum exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States. For the contemporary collector; Diller works are hard to get one’s hands on with works on paper (usually ink and/or gouache) ranging from $5000$40000. Original paintings and wall constructions at $40000and up. Diller created no limited edition prints, limiting the entry level purchase to a work on paper – usually only available at auction Houses and fine art galleries.


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Ilya Bolotowsky Ilya Bolotowsky constantly searched for order through his visual expressions. However, unlike the earlier adapters of the tenets of Neo-plasticism Bolotowsky’s visual language was fueled by the now popular Suprematist, Cubist, Constructivist, and Abstract Expressionist art movements. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, he immigrated to America in 1932 and attended the National Academy of Design. He quickly associated himself with “The Ten Whitney Dissenters”, a group of artists who, unhappy with academy and museum structures soon began to mount their own exhibitions. It was here that he credits his magnetic draw to Mondrian’s work. Bolotowsky was also a founding member of American Abstract Artist where he met other artists such as Burgoyne Diller. It was Diller who gave him the commission for the mural for the Williamsburg Housing Project which was one of the first purely abstract murals created under the Federal Art Project. Bolotowsky’s career was temporarily put into suspension while he served his country, stationed in Alaska. From 1946-48 he was a teacher at Black Mountain College where he was not only influenced by his fellow teachers, but also by his students.One may suspect by looking closely at Bolotowsky’s late work that clear, precise control of his images was of utmost importance. He did however emphasized the role of intuition over formula in determining his compositions and in many of his interviews states that the pieces are just as much an abstract composition as they are what the viewer saw in them. After all, one man’s Neo-plastic

composition in yellow and blue was another man’s reduced aerial depiction of a farmer’s pasture dissected by roads and property lines! Ilya Bolotowsky’s works are in multiple important public and private collections worldwide. Thankfully, since he was steadily producing work through the mid 20th century, he created many varied serigraphs and prints which are relatively easy to find from galleries, resellers, auction houses and online.

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Pierre Clerk Pierre Clerk was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1928. He studied fine arts at McGill University, Loyola College and at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, Canada. He traveled to Europe to seek further instruction at the Academy Julien in Paris, France and the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence Italy. Pierre Clerk first gained recognition in the United States and Canada with his large sculpture and painting installations – the most recognizable of these is still installed outside the Toledo Art Museum in Toledo, Ohio. Clerk was often quoted as having been strongly influenced by De Stijl. Well into the 21st century (in his 80s) he continues to produce an astounding array of large-scale abstract geometric paintings from his studio in France. One can see an obvious tie to the fundamental rules of Neo-plasticism and De Stijl in Clerk’s work – however they beg to call these rules into question. Subsequently, he not only calls them into question, but disregards these rules just enough to define his work as a unique addition. Absent from his work are compositions adhering to strict primary color usage. Although black lines and shapes are often present in his work, rarely are they horizontal or vertical. Big, bold and commanding – his work is a perfect combination of art movements such as De Stijl and Minimalism as they presented themselves and evolved in his lifetime. The Clerk image shown is from his Africa Suite. As with Bolotowsky, Clerk often produces work that is not just pure

abstraction. Although abstract in nature the work often represents a theme, a place, an idea that is only known to Clerk and only slightly alluded to in a brief title. Lucky for collectors, Pierre Clerk is still producing work (and large powerful work at that) to this day. For the beginning collector there are an array of serigraphs of excellent quality available at auction houses, galleries and online. Be sure to check out these recent paintings, on exhibit through his gallery representation at Cortex Athletico in France.


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Bryce Hudson Bryce Hudson is among a small set of contemporary artists presently working to decipher the boundaries of geometric abstraction as they relate to past art movements and the present day. Hudson, who is biracial, began his career with the production of symbolic works in which he would combine this geometric abstraction with an underlining tie to race and class stereotypes in American society. His black and white color frequently represented Black and Caucasian races, yellow and orange represented Asian and Latin races. Hudson’s work has always been weighted on its compositional structure – he also produces multimedia prints and altered digital representations from the graphic advertisements and images of the 20th century. In his paintings the reductionist influences of De Stijl and the later Minimalism movement of the mid 20th century cannot go unnoticed. Presently, Hudson has withdrawn from his original approach to these either tongue-incheek representations or direct reinterpretations from American census surveys and allowed his work to follow a more abstract nature. Are they purely abstract geometric compositional works or are they interiors reduced to their most basic elements of shape, light and color? Whichever the case they, too, are part of the new plastic reality that his contemporaries set out to explore and define a century ago.

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HOW HAS DESTIJL CHANGED? De Stijl has morphed today into a more modern and ambiguous term called “color-blocking.” And while some creatives like Yves saint Laurent took direct inspiration from De Stijl, it’s no longer only about straight vertical and horizontal lines, it could be about zig-zags, concentric circle, indescribable shapes, and just plain patches of color….and to boot, the colors used in modern-day De Stijl ,so to speak, are no longer primary, they come in all crayola hues from rich gem hues to pastels.

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THE “RED AND BLUE CHAIR” designed by Gerrit Rietveld in 1917

ABSTARCT PAINTING signature style by Piet Mondrian


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GUCCI SPRING/SUMMER COLLECTION 2011 Runway Presentation in Milan

MONDRIAN INSPIRED DRESS (YSL 1960S ARCHIVE) The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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LACQUERED SUSTAINABLE DANISH PINE WOOD BASELINE PINE EDITION Armoire by Soren Rose

STILLETO HEELS by Nina Hjorth


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VERSACE SPRING/SUMMER 2011 Runway Presentation in Milan

THE “TRIP TRUMEAU” CHEST OF DRAWS by Selab

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MEXICON PLATTER by DFC Mexico City

AERIAL7 “TANK” MONDRIAN HEADPHONES, created by Josh Madden


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MSHELVING DOUBLE BOOKSHELF

SUSHI IV CHAIR by Fernando & Humberto Campana

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Destijl Artist Book