Van DOESBURG, his quotes on De Stijl, Dada, Concrete Art, Elementarism and architecture
THEO van DOESBURG (1883-1931) was a famous Dutch artist painter and co-founder of the art magazine and artist-group ‘De Stijl’ / Neo Plasticism with Piet Mondrian. Van Doesburg presented by his many art manifestos, letters, writings, essays, quotes and journals frequently his ideas and concepts on art. After his De Stijl period and his disagreements with Mondrian, Van Doesburg cooperated with Dada artists like Dadaist Kurt Schwitters.
* At the bottom more biography facts and Dada stories & art links for Theo van Doesburg. When you enjoy Van Doesburg’s quotes and stories, please share them on Facebook, Google +1 or Twitter; – the editor.
Theo van Doesburg: ‘Contra-composition of Dissonances, XVI’, 1925
THEO VAN DOESBURG, quotes by the artist on art & life – co-founder of ‘De Stijl’ / NeoPlasticism – later in Dada
-(Futurism’s) …superficial expression of velocity, the aeroplane, the racing-car and so on, is but a weak expression of the inner velocity of thought compared to which the velocity of radium represents nothing but inertia… …The mimetic expression of velocity (whatever its form may be: the aeroplane, the automobile, and so on) is diametrically opposed to the character of painting, the supreme origin of which is to be found in inner life.
* Theo van Doesburg, source of artist quote on velocity in painting art, color and architecture (Aubette), published in the magazine: ‘Eenheid’ (Dutch, for Unity) no. 127, 9 November 1912; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, p. 16 ( Dutch famous initiator of De Stijl, with Piet Mondrian, later active in Dada with Schwitters and Arp; creating abstract art with a strong focus color, as well in paintings as architecture; more biography facts at the bottom)
- The problem which Mondrian undertook to solve in nr. 116 (painting of Mondrian exhibited in a group-exhibition in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, 1915, fh) was handled very successfully. This work spiritually dominates all others. It gives the impression of Repose; the repose of the soul. Its pre-determined structure embodies ‘becoming’ rather than ‘being’. This represents a true element in art., for art is not ‘being’, but ‘becoming’. The idea of ‘becoming’ has been expressed in black and white… …Through years of hard work my own experiences have led me, before I came to know the theories of Uexkuell or Picasso, to prefer the use of the white-black-grey palette in works of a purely spiritual content…
* Van Doesburg, source of the art quote on Mondrians early abstract art: ‘Eenheid’ (Unity) no. 283, 6 November 1915; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, p. 105
- Mondrian realizes the importance of line. The line has almost become a work of art in itself; one can not 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.
* source of artist quote on the use of line by Mondrian: ‘Eenheid’ (Unity) no. 283, 6 November 1915; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, pp. 105-106
- For – to say a few words on technique – whereas the curved line was used predominantly for reasons of beauty, (Phidias, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rubens) it has been used more and more economically for reasons of truth (Millet, Monet, Paul Cézanne until it will end as the straight line for reasons of Love. This will enable the art of the future to create an international form; a form understandable to all and vital enough to the expression of a general feeling of love in a monumental way. Such is the future.
* Van Doesburg, source of his quote on the necessity of the straight line in painting as Mondrian explored first; his article published in the Dutch paper: ‘Onafhankelijke bespiegelingen over de kunst’ (Independent Reflexions on art), in ’De Avondpost’ 23 January 1916
- Since all preceding schools of painting have proved that the spirit of beauty does not lie in nature but in the ‘I’, now that painting in all its various expressions from Giotto to Cézanne has demonstrated that all beauty is in the ‘I’, that the ‘I’ is all emotion and that beyond the ‘I’ nothing can exist because all being exists only in relationship with the ‘I’, now the time has come to develop from this ‘I’ a new style. As soon as this ‘I’ becomes the general, universal ‘I’ instead of the individualistic or the rationalistic one, the new style will be a general style.
* source of his artist quote, preluding on De Stijl as a general art style, taken from his article: ‘The new style in painting’, in ‘De Avondpost’ 2 mei 1916
- European art (however) has developed from mimeticism and only today is arriving at an elementary plastic art.
* Theo van Doesburg, artist quote on the coming ‘Plastic art’ without representation anymore, from his article: ‘Great Masters of Art’ in ‘Eenheid’ no. 357, 7 April 1917
- However, Man as the appearance of utmost internality, of spirit, does not possess any point in front, at the side or the back, no fixed point at all towards which he could define a dimension. This explains why in expressing the spiritual, in making spirit an artifact, he will be forced to a moto-stereometric form of expression. This moto-stereometric form of expression represents the appearance of a 4-n dimensional world in a world of three dimensions.
* his artist quote on moto-stereometric forms in new painting art, published in: ‘Great Masters of Art’ in ‘Eenheid’ no 392, 8 December 1917
-..modern destruction begins where architectural structure is opened up and set into motion by colour relationships. The colour-planes, however, are always in orthogonal relationship.
* Theo van Doesburg, source of the artist quote in his article: ‘Aantekeningen bij Bijlage 12 (Notes), De Zaag en de goudvischkom van P.Alma’, in art-magazine ‘De Stijl’ 1 8, June 1918, p. 93
- The development of plastic art is determined by the will to visualize. Art of the past represented the subjective vision of ‘naturalistic relationships’’. Neo-plasticism embodies a subjective vision of ‘plastic relationships’… …Pure thought, which does not signify a concept derived from natural phenomena but which is contained in numbers, measures, relationships and abstract lines, is revealed conceptually (as Reason) by Chinese, Greek and German philosophy, and aesthetically by contemporary Neo-plasticism.
* source of artist quote on Neo-plasticism as the new plastic art style, in the article: ‘Thought – Vision – Creation’ ‘De Stijl’ Vol ll, 2 December 1918; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, pp. 108-109
- … art and life are no longer separate domains… …The word ‘art’ no longer has anything to say to us. In place of that, we (De Stijl artists as group in the Netherlands, fh) insist upon the construction of our surroundings according to creative laws, deriving from a fixed principle. (remark on integration of art and life, 1918, fh)
* Theo van Doesburg, his artist quote on the close relation between modern art and life, from: ”Abstract Art”, Anna Moszynska, Thames and Hudson 1990, p. 85
- Perhaps it was his return to Paris (In June 1919 Mondrian returned to Paris, fh) that was needed to provide him with fresh new possibilities in his work. Invigoration. His most recent work is without composition. The division of the picture plane is modular. That means ordinary rectangles, all the same size. The only contrast is in the colour. In my view, this runs counter to his theory concerning the abolition of position and dimension. This is in effect equality of position and dimension. (critical remark on Mondrian’s work, fh)
* Van Doesburg, source of his critical quote on Mondrian’s art, from: a letter to the Dutch modern architect Oud, 24 June 1919; as quoted in “Mondrian, -The Art of Destruction”, Carel Blotkamp, Reaktion Books LTD. London 2001, p. 126
- Only a radical cleaning of social and artistic life as, in the domain of art, is already done by Dada, which is anti-sentimental and healthy to the core since it is anti-art, only unscrupulously striking down any systematically bred amateurism in any field, can prepare civilization for the New Vision’s happiness which is greatly and purely alive in a dew people.
* Theo van Doesburg, one of his early Dada-quotes, from his article: ‘Is a Universal Plastic Notion Possible Today?’, in ‘Bouwkundig weekblad’, XLI 39, 1920, pp. 230-
- In all these products, whether iron bridges, locomotives, automobiles, telescopes, cottages, airport-hangars, funicular railways, skyscrapers, or children’s toys, the will towards a new style expresses itself. The similarity of these examples to the new creations in art consists in the same striving for clear, pure form which expresses truth in the objects.
* artist quote on the Stijl art principles of pure forms and colors, in: ‘The will to Style’, in ‘De Stijl’, February-March 1922; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, p. 123
- Dada is able to mobilize the optical and dimensional static viewpoint which keeps us imprisoned in our (three-dimensional) illusions. Thus it became possible to perceive the entire prism of the world instead of just one facet at a time. In this connection Dada is one of the strongest manifestations of the fourth dimension, transposed onto the subject… …Dada is ‘yes-no, a bird on four legs, a ladder without steps, a square without angels. Dada possesses as many positives as negatives. To think that Dada simply means destruction is to misunderstand life, of which Dada is the expression.
* source of this artist quote on Dada, from: ‘What is Dada?????????????????’, in ‘De Stijl, The Hague, 1923 ; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, p. 134
- What we demand of art is UNITY, a demand which will never be fulfilled as long as artists use individualistic means. ‘Unity can only result from disciplining the means, for it is this discipline which produces more generalized means’. The objectification of the means will lead towards elementary, monumental plastic expression.
It would be ridiculous to maintain that none of this relates to creative activity. If that were true, art would not be subject to logical discipline.
* Van Doesburg, artist quote on the demand for unity as an essential aspect of modern art, from: ‘Towards elementary plastic expression’, in ‘Material zur elementaren Gestaltung, G-1, July 1923; ; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, p. 141
- …the modern artist can conclude that impulsive and speculative production has come to an end. THE ERA OF DECORATIVE TASTE HAS VANISHED, the artist of today has finished completely with the past. Scientific and technical developments oblige him to draw conclusions… … to revise his means, to establish laws creating a system, that is to say, to master his elementary means of expression in a conscious manner.
* artist quote from his article: ‘Towards elementary plastic expression’, in ‘Material zur elementaren Gestaltung, G-1, July 1923; ; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, p. 141
- ‘Art’ is a Renaissance invention which has been carried to a state of extreme refinement in the present day. This is the so-called ‘abstract art’!
The production of good works of art was achieved only at the cost of an enormous concentration upon certain matters. This concentration could be achieved only through neglecting ‘life’, through the very loss of life- just as religion had experienced before. ‘Today this situation is no longer tolerable’ Today life is paramount. Modern life in general rejects all tendencies towards isolation and ivory tower-like exclusiveness. It is absolute un-modern to concentrate upon just one thing (as did the middle Ages!) Modern life is based upon the construction, which is to say, upon a system of tensions or the neutralization of the system of carry and support. In agreement with this concept we too must distribute our vitality over the whole range of life taken in the broadest possible sense. All other attitudes towards life produce tragedy.
* Theo van Doesburg, source of his artist quote on the neutralization of the system of carry and support, in: ‘The end of art’, ‘De Stijl’ series XII, 1924-5, pp. 135-136
- Art has poisoned our life. Aesthetics has infected everyone… …If one chooses a typewriter or a sewing machine in the living room, the housewife say: ‘Please take it away; it destroys the harmony of the room.’
Post-cards, stamps, pouches, railway-tickets, pots umbrellas, towels, pyamas, chairs, blankets, handkerchiefs and ties – everything is ‘arty’. How much more refreshing are those articles which are not called art: bathrooms, bath-tubs, bicycles, automobiles, engine-rooms and flat-irons. There are still people who can make beautiful things without art. They are the progressives.
* Van Doesburg, his quote on aesthetics as a negative force of art, in his article: ‘The end of art, ‘De Stijl’ series XII, 1924-5, pp. 135-136
- We speak of concrete and not abstract painting because nothing is more concrete, more real than a line, a color, a surface. (1925)
* artist quote of the declaration of Concrete Art (similar to Hans Arp’s art concept, fh), from: ”Abstract Art”, Anna Moszynska, Thames and Hudson 1990, p. 107
- It must be emphasized that in seeing a work of art that has been composed by precise means, the viewer does not perceive dominant details. His impression is one of perfect balance to which all the parts contribute, an impression which not only applies to the parts as such, but is transmitted also to the relation existing between the work of art and the viewer. (1925)
* Theo van Doesburg, his artist quote on the balance in art and between art and the viewer, from: ”Abstract Painting”, Michel Seuphor, Dell Publishing Co. 1964, p. 85
- Although it is very difficult to express in words the effect of a work of art, it may be said that the viewer’s deepest impression can best be defined as the achievement of a balance between objective meaning and subjective meaning, both directly penetrated by awareness. He has a sensation of height and of depth which are no longer in any way bound to natural conditions or to spatial dimensions, a sensation which places the viewer in a state of consciousness harmony. (1925)
* Van Doesburg, his quote on the balance between objective meaning and subjective meaning for the viewer, from: ”Abstract Painting”, Michel Seuphor, Dell Publishing Co. 1964, pp. 85-86
- True artistic experience is never passive, for the spectator is obliged to participate, as it were, in the continuous or discontinuous variations of proportions, positions, lines and planes. Moreover, he must see clearly how this play of repeated or non-repeated changes may give rise to a new harmony of relations which will constitute the unity of the work. Every part becomes organized into a whole with the other parts. All the parts contribute to the unity of the composition, none of them assuming a dominant place in the whole. (remark on the necessary internal unity in a work of art, 1925, fh)
* Theo van Doesburg, artist quote on the active viewer to experience unity in the artwork, from : ”Abstract Painting”, Michel Seuphor, Dell Publishing Co. 1964, p. 86
The other face. To be
He who is above cannot be below
Not to show one’s colours is to be like flotsam
not to be consistent (to be oneself) is not being
but never being true
hare all flag-heroism but incite to
suffering the consequences of being:
to be hard to be cold to be cruel
To kill to hurt
to disturb tranquility
to distort harmony
from truly being
that is heroic thing
to be oneself is
being neither under bond nor borrowed nor sold nor hired
to be spiritually free
* Theo van Doesburg, a poem: ‘The other face. To be’, I.K, Bonset (= pseudo for Theo van Doesburg, fh); ‘De Stijl’ Vol. XIII, 75-6, 1926, p. 64
- In addition, Elementarism is real instead of abstract. The use of the term ‘abstract’ also caused much misunderstanding. This is easily explained… … As used in connection with visual methods of expression, the term ‘abstract’ is extremely relative. ‘To abstract’ something implies one of those mental activities (in contrast to emotional spontaneity) through which certain (aesthetic) values are isolated from the world of reality. However, when such values were realized visually and applied as purely constructive means, they became real. Thus the abstract was transformed into the real, thereby illustrating the relativity of the former term. Hence, the term ‘abstract-real’ (Mondrian) was a fortunate invention, although in reference to a new orientation (Elementarism, fh) the term ‘real’ is sufficient. The period of abstraction is at an end. Is not an elementary painting, which is to say a certain composition of plane-linear colours, organic in itself, more concrete…
* Theo van Doesburg, artist quote on his new art proposal: Elementarism as real art, in:’Painting and plastic art’, Rome July 1926, in ‘De Stijl’, series XIII, 1 75-6, 1926, pp. 35-43
- Had optical perception not evolved into something more than sensory perception, into super-sensory perception, then the present period would never have had the courage to discover the spiritual in matter. There would have been no fundamental difference between a painting by Picasso (from his so-called ‘abstract’ period) and one by Paulus Potter (Dutch painter in 17th century, fh)
* Theo van Doesburg, artist quote on optical perception, in: ‘Painting: from composition towards counter-composition’ in ’Painting and plastic art’, ‘De Stijl’, series XIII, 73-4, 1926, pp. 17-18
- Our time has produced a need for contrast. This has been achieved not only in the external appearance of plastic expressions of coulor and matter, but also, and chiefly, in the tempo of life and in the techniques related to the daily, mechanical functions of life; namely standing, walking, driving, to lying and sitting – in short, every action which determines the content of architecture.
* Theo van Doesburg, artist quote on the modern daily need for contrast, in: ‘Painting: from composition towards counter-composition’ in ’Painting and plastic art’, ‘De Stijl’, series XIII, 73-4, 1926, pp. 17-18 ( Dutch famous initiator of De Stijl with Piet Mondrian, later in Dada with Schwitters; creating abstract art focused on color in paintings and architecture; short biography facts below)
- Elementarism has been born partly in reaction to an over dogmatic and often narrow-minded application of Neo-Plasticism (critic on Mondrian, fh), partly as its consequence but ultimately from what is primarily a radical correction of Neo-plastic ideas.
1 Elementarism rejects the demands of pure statics which led to sterility and to the laming of creative potentialities. Instead of denying Time and Space, Elementarism acknowledge these elements to be the most elementary means for creating a new plastic expression…. …In contrast to the Neo-plastic manner of expression, which is restricted to two dimensions (the plane), Elementarism acknowledges a form of plastic expression in four dimensions, the realm of space-time. In opposition to the orthogonal style of plastic expression, which is ‘homogeneous’ with natural construction, Elementarism postulates a ‘heterogeneous’ contrasting, unstable manner of plastic expression based upon planes oblique in relation to the static, perpendicular axis of gravitation
* artist quote on Elementaris as an better alternative for Neo-Plasticism / De Stijl art, in: ‘Painting and plastic art: Elementarism – fragment of a manifesto’ Paris, December 1926 – April 1927; in ‘De Stijl’, series XIII, 78, 1926/27, pp. 82-87
- The plastic expression of space is inconceivable without light. Light and space complete one another. In architecture light represents an element of plastic expression – in fact, the most important one. An organic relationship between ‘space’ and ‘material’ is possible only with the aid of light. The highest achievements in architecture can be accomplished only if light also is treated as plastic form.
* Van Doesburg, his quote on Light and space completing one another, in his article: ‘Space – time and colour’, in ‘De Stijl’ Aubette Issue, series xv, 87-9, 1928, pp. 26-27
- Plastic expression in architecture is inconceivable without colour. Colour and light complete one another. Without colour architecture is expressionless, blind… …If the Functionalists wish to suppress colour completely, then this merely proves that they never understood the importance of colour as an ‘architectural’ element, as a means of plastic expression, no matter whether used with iron, glass, or concrete.
* artist quote on the essence of light for modern architecture: ‘Space – time and colour’, in ‘De Stijl’ Aubette Issue, series xv, 87-9, 1928, pp. 26-27
- White This is the spiritual colour of our times, the clearness which directs all our actions. It is neither grey nor ivory white, but pure white.
White This is the colour of modern times, the colour which dissipates a whole era; our era is one of perfection, purity and certitude.
White It includes everything.
We have superseded both the ‘brown’ of decadence and classicism and the ‘blue’ of divisionism, the cult of the blue sky, the gods with green beards and the spectrum.
White pure white…
* quote on White as main and spiritual color: ‘Towards white painting’, Paris, December 1929, in ‘Art Concret’ April 1930; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, p. 183
- Marinetti’s (leading Futurism theorist and poet, fh) Tactilism can be seen as an instinctive effort in this direction even if it presents only the sensuous-tactile expression of space through using various materials. Picasso’s earlier compositions in various materials also concerns us here (for the proposed new architecture, fh) The Russian artists (Tatlin and Lissitzky) also appreciated the exterior quality of the plane, not only optical, but also in a tactile manner… …Intuition already produced a foreknowledge of these new realms, but they can be established fully only by science.
* Van Doesburg, artist quote proposing the sensuous-tactile expression of space as essential for new architecture, in: an unpublished writing: ‘The struggle for the new’, 1929-30; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, p. 187
- After having passed through the various phases of plastic creation (the phases of arrangement, composition, and construction) I have arrived at the creation of ‘universal forms’ through constructing upon an arithmetical basis with the pure elements of painting.
* artist quote on universal forms concerning pure painting art, in the French art-magazine : ‘From intuition towards certitude’, 1930, in ‘Réalités nouvelles’, 1947, no. 1, p. 3
- 1. We speak of ‘concrete’ and not ‘abstract painting’, because we have finished with the period of research and speculative experience. In their search for purity artists were obliged to abstract from ‘natural forms’ in which the plastic elements were hidden, in order to eliminate natural forms and to replace them with ‘artistic forms’. To-day the idea of ‘artistic form’ is as obsolete as the idea of ‘natural form’. We establish the period of pure painting by constructing ‘spiritual form’. Creative spirit becomes concrete.
* Theo van Doesburg, source of artist quote on Concrete Painting against Abstract Painting, in: ‘Comments on the basic of concrete painting’, Paris, January 1930, ‘Art Concret’, April 1930, pp. 2-4
- We speak of concrete and not abstract painting because nothing is more concrete, more real than a line, a colour, a surface. A woman, a tree, a cow; are these concrete elements in a painting? No. A woman, a tree and a cow are concrete only in nature; in painting they are abstract, illusionistic, vague and speculative. However, a plane is a plane, a line is a line and no more or no less than that. “Concrete painting’’. Spirit has arrived at the age of maturity…
* Van Doesburg, artist quote on the concrete elements of modern art: ‘Comments on the basic of concrete painting’, Paris, January 1930, ‘Art Concret’, April 1930, pp. 2-4
- To be white, red, yellow, or black is to be a painter. To-day it is not sufficient for the painter to think of colour; he should be colour, feed on colour and transform himself into painting. That is the essential thing. To feel like colour means to carry within oneself the entire range of colours, not as a treasure, but as a trust.
* Theo van Doesburg, artist quote on the connection: Color and the painter, in: ‘Elementarism’, in ‘De Stijl – Van Doesburg Issue’, January 1932, pp. 17-19
- The complete and definitive work of art is created beyond one’s individuality… …The universal transcends such a level. Mere spontaneity has never created a work of art which possesses a lasting cultural value. The method leading to universal form is based upon calculations of measure and number.
* artist quotes on calculation for painting, in: ‘Elementarism’, in ‘De Stijl – Van Doesburg Issue’, January 1932, pp. 17-19
- One must always paint in opposition to nature, and to one’s own ‘mood’. To let oneself go is a weakness, a sort of hysterics. If you are full of red, choose a green or a blue; if you feel like yellow, choose grey or black. In this continuous opposition lies the entire secret of plastic creation… …To create a great work of art demands self-mortification. (Paris, 13 July 1930, fh))
* Theo van Doesburg, quote on self-mortification in making art as an artist (comparable with the demand for destruction in making modern art, by Mondrian, f.h.), in: ‘Elementarism’, in ‘De Stijl – Van Doesburg Issue’, January 1932, pp. 17-19
- The artist’s studio will be like a glass-bell or a hollow crystal. The painter himself must be white, which is to say, without tragedy or sorrow. The pallet must be of glass; the brush must be square and hard, dust-free and as immaculate as a surgical instrument. Doubtless there is much to learn from a medical laboratory… …The studio of the modern painter must reflect the ambience of mountains which are nine thousand feet high and topped with a eternal cap of snow. There the cold kills the microbes.
* Theo van Doesburg, artist quote on the artist’s studio as a kind of medical laboratory, to kill the microbes, in: ‘Elementarism’, in ‘De Stijl – Van Doesburg Issue’, January 1932, pp. 17-19 ( Dutch famous initiator of De Stijl with Piet Mondrian, later in Dada with Schwitters; creating abstract art focused on color in paintings and architecture; short biography facts below)
- The work of art should be entirely conceived and formed by the mind before its execution. It should receive nothing from Nature’s formal properties or from sensuality or sentimentality… …The picture should be constructed entirely from purely plastic elements, that is to say, planes and colours. A pictorial element has no other significance than ‘itself’, and therefore the picture has no other significance than ‘itself’. (remark on the necessary plasticity of art, fh)
* artist quote on the plasticity of art, constructed in and by the mind beforehand, in: the first and only issue of the art magazine ‘Art Concret’, Paris 1930 ( Dutch famous initiator of De Stijl with Piet Mondrian, later in Dada with Schwitters; creating abstract art focused on color in paintings and architecture; short biography facts below)
- The new architecture has ‘opened’ the walls so that the separateness of interior and exterior is suppressed. Walls no longer sustain since the system of construction is based upon the use of columns. This results in a new type of ground plan, an open ground plan, which is totally different from classical ones, since interior space and exterior space are interrelated.
* Theo van Doesburg, artist quote on new architecture which has ‘opened’ the walls, a note from :an unpublished writing: ‘Fundamental principles’, 1930; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, p. 203 ( Dutch famous initiator of De Stijl with Piet Mondrian, later in Dada with Schwitters; creating abstract art focused on color in paintings and architecture; short biography facts below)
- The new architecture considers not only space, but also time to be an architectural value. The unity of space and time will give architecture a new form of appearance, which is more complete. This is what is meant by ‘active space’… …the dissimilar space-cells develop eccentrically from the center to the borders of the cube, thereby granting a new plastic quality to the dimensions of height, width, depth, and time.
* artist quote on space and time to be both architectural values; note in: an unpublished writing: ‘Fundamental principles’, 1930; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, p. 203
- The new architecture has suppressed monotonous repetition and destroyed the equality of two symmetrical halves. It does not allow for continuous repetition. A block of houses is as much a whole as an independent house. Balance and symmetry are two entirely different things. In place of symmetry the new architecture proposes a balanced relationship of unequal parts or parts which differ (in position, proportion, size and materials) in functional character.
* Theo van Doesburg, quote on modern architecture and its balanced relationship of unequal parts, from: an unpublished writing: ‘Fundamental principles’, 1930; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, p. 204
- I would like to offer an illustration. Imagine a house which is well designed from a material or practical point of view… …Apart from these physio-functional demands, there are also psycho-functional demands which correspond with our optical, phonetic and tactile experiences. Until now, mankind has attempted to satisfy these ‘supra-material’ demands with a painting on the wall or a sculpture in a room…. …the architecture of the future will have to destroy this duality. Its task will be to express completely and fulfill all our demands.
* source of his artist quote on modern or future architecture, in: an unpublished writing: ‘The new architecture and its consequences’, 1930; as quoted in “Theo van Doesburg”, Joost Baljeu, Studio Vista, London 1974, p. 195
not sourced artist quotes of Theo van Doesburg (De Stijl / Dada / Elementarism)
- Art as we understand it… …does develop powers that in turn determine culture as a whole.
- …every machine is the spiritualization of an organism.
Theo van Doesburg’s artist quotes??
editor Fons Heijnsbroek
biography and history facts of Theo van Doesburg on his art & life
Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931) was a Dutch abstract artist, practicing painting, architecture, but also much writing on art and making poetry. He is famous for being one of the two founding leaders of the Dutch modernistic art movement ‘De Stijl’ or ‘Nieuwe Beelding’ (Dutch for: Neo-Plasticism), together with Piet Mondrian. Van Doesburg was a very sociable, active and flamboyant artist and organized several international circles, publications and cooperations with other artists. After some years intensively cooperating and exchanging ideas with Piet Mondrian there arose different opinions on art between the two artists; one issue was the use of the diagonal line, which Van Doesburg did favorite because of its energetic power in art, but Mondrian was sceptical about it. This disagreement represented a total different attitude towards the art and the necessary energy. The two artists broke up and Van Doesburg would formulated later – after a couple of energic Dada years – his own art concept: Elementarism, as a critical consequence of Neo-Plasticism.
Van Doesburg was mainly active as painter and as art theorist, architectural thinker and designer in theory. After his Neo-Plasticism period he engaged himself more with provoking Dada. In cooperation with German Dadaist Schwitters he organized in The Netherlands in 1923 a few Dada meetings where the police was forced to handle. Later Van Doesburg would formulate his own Elementarism Manifesto and art concept, as the quotes here illustrate.
Van Doesburg was a painter but nevertheless always fascinated by architecture and its possibilities for painting and color; he practiced this ideas in the famous Aubette project, in cooperation with Hans Arp and Sophie Arp Tauber. Between 1926 – 1928 Van Doesburg was occupied in his Aubette-project in Strasbourg;this was in fact the one and only project in which he could practice in reality his already formulated concepts and ideas on the character of space, light and colour in architecture; Café Aubette was a large interior architecture project of creating mural paintings in an existing dance-hall / cinema. At the end of his life Van Doesburg settled in Meudon and kept on refining his ideas on new architecture, till his very last years.
links for more information on painter artist Theo van Doesburg