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Monday
May152017

Theo van Doesburg: Elementarism

Theo van Doesburg - Café Aubette, Strasbourg, France (Color scheme for floor and long walls of ballroom, preliminary version - 1927 - Ink, gouache, and metallic gouache on paper - 21 x 14 3/4" (53.3 x 37.5 cm) - Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York (click photo for larger image)Dutch Neo-Plasticist painter Theo van Doesburg (born Christian Emil Marie Küpper) (1883-1931) was one of the founders and leading theorists of the DeStijl movement (along with Piet Mondrian, which began in the Netherlands and flourished into one of the major inter-war movements. “It advocated a simplified, geometric, and reductive aesthetic in the visual arts and argued that painting, design, and architecture should be fully integrated.” 

In addition to painting, Van Doesburg designed buildings, room decorations, stained glass, furniture, and household items that embodied both De Stijl's aesthetic theories and the artist’s personal ideas. He also wrote numerous essays and treatises on geometric abstraction and De Stijl, published journals, and organized many exhibitions of works by De Stijl artists and related movements.

Van Doesburg’s personal vision was called Elementarism. It emphasized subtle shifts in tones, tilting geometric shapes at angles relative to the picture plane, and varying lengths of horizontal and vertical lines colored lines—some disconnected from one another. This represented a shift away from the stricter practice of Mondrian. Van Doesburg explained Elementarism as "based on the neutralization of the positive and negative directions by the diagonal and, as far as color is concerned, by the dissonant. Equilibrated relations are not the ultimate result."

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