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Artists Theo van Doesburg
Theo van Doesburg Photo

Theo van Doesburg

Dutch Painter, Designer, and Architect

Movements and Styles: De Stijl, Elementarism

Born: Born: August 30, 1883 - Utrecht, Netherlands

Died: Died: March 7, 1931 - Davos, Switzerland

Theo van Doesburg Timeline

Quotes

"The artist no longer needs a particular starting point in nature in order to achieve an image of beauty. He spontaneously creates relationships in equilibrium - complete harmony - the goal of art."
Theo van Doesburg
"The point is to situate man within painting, rather than in front of it."
Theo van Doesburg
He 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."
Theo van Doesburg
"Mondrian realizes the importance of the line. The line has almost become a work of art in itself; one cannot play with it when the representation of objects perceived was all important. The white canvas is almost solemn. Each superfluous line, each wrongly placed line, any color placed without veneration or care, can spoil everything - that is, the spiritual."
Theo van Doesburg
"Architecture joins together, binds; painting loosens, unbinds."
Theo van Doesburg

"What I am trying to realize is a universal form which entirely corresponds to my spiritual vision"

Theo van Doesburg Signature

Synopsis

Theo Van Doesburg was one of the founders and leading theorists of De Stijl 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. Van Doesburg created numerous abstract paintings and designed buildings, room decorations, stained glass, furniture, and household items that exemplified De Stijl's aesthetic theories and his personal ideas. He 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.

Key Ideas

Van Doesburg's personal version of De Stijl was called Elementarism, which emphasized subtle shifts in tones, tilting squares and rectangles at angles relative to the picture plane, and allowed straight horizontal and vertical lines to be colored, varied in length, and disconnected from one another.
Van Doesburg wanted to give De Stijl more variety, movement, and energy than found in Piet Mondrian's personal version of the movement, which was called Neoplasticism. This small but crucial difference in his thinking led to Van Doesburg and Mondrian's split in 1924.
Van Doesburg believed that art should be an absorbing, spatial, and environmental experience. This led him to create architectural designs, stained glass, interior decoration, furniture, and other functional, daily items that were carefully related to one another and were meant to be installed together for a holistic experience. Many of these were never actually built or manufactured.
Van Doesburg felt that abstraction's unique value was its ability to achieve social order and universal harmony with its precise, orderly geometry and vibrant, contrasting colors. He also felt that his reductive method had spiritually and morally uplifting qualities. His Dancers series demonstrates both his abstraction, and the spiritual inspiration he found in it.

Biography

Theo van Doesburg Photo

Childhood and Education

Theo van Doesburg was born in Utrecht, the Netherlands to Wilhelm Kupper and Henrietta Catherina Margadant. Originally named Christian Emile Marie Kupper, he considered his stepfather, Theodorus Doesburg, to be his natural father, eventually taking his stepfather's name when he began his painting career. Van Doesburg served in the Dutch military and during World War I (from 1914 to 1916), he was stationed near Tilburg. He was married four times; the first three marriages ended in divorce and the fourth lasted until his death.

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Theo van Doesburg Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Theo van Doesburg
Interactive chart with Theo van Doesburg's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Vincent van GoghVincent van Gogh
Wassily KandinskyWassily Kandinsky
Walter GropiusWalter Gropius
Tristan TzaraTristan Tzara

Personal Contacts

Piet MondrianPiet Mondrian
El LissitzkyEl Lissitzky
Kurt SchwittersKurt Schwitters

Movements

DadaDada
BauhausBauhaus
ConstructivismConstructivism
Neo-PlasticismNeo-Plasticism
CubismCubism

Influences on Artist
Theo van Doesburg
Theo van Doesburg
Years Worked: 1900 - 1931
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Ludwig Mies van der RoheLudwig Mies van der Rohe
Constantin Brâncu?iConstantin Brâncu?i
László Moholy-NagyLászló Moholy-Nagy
Francis PicabiaFrancis Picabia

Personal Contacts

Piet MondrianPiet Mondrian
Sophie Taeuber-ArpSophie Taeuber-Arp
Kurt SchwittersKurt Schwitters
Barbara HepworthBarbara Hepworth

Movements

DadaDada
BauhausBauhaus
De StijlDe Stijl
ElementarismElementarism

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

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Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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