De Stijl: An Art Movement That Changed The Face of Canvas Art

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red, 1937–42, oil on canvas

De Stijl on Canvas

De Stijl is everywhere, and you love it but you don’t even know it!

One of my favorite forms of artwork is De Stijl, a composition of lines angles and primary colors on a stark white background.  I would imagine that art history teachers find this particular art movement very exciting to teach based on its exultation of the abstract and the pure forms within human beings’ everyday lives.  De Stijl was a direct result of neoplasticism, which rejects the idea of painting or recreating objects in a traditional sense.  Only the form and color were the absolute highlight of De Stijl.

The most well known artists that used De Stijl on canvas were Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), Vilmos Huszár (1884–1960), and Bart van der Leck (1876–1958), and  architects Gerrit Rietveld (1888–1964), Robert van ‘t Hoff (1887–1979), and J.J.P. Oud (1890–1963).  Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931) was the founder of the De Stijl art movement that has influenced so much of our modern art and design.

Piet Mondrian is important to canvas art because of his idea of De Stijl as an art movement that claimed to reflect the absolutes of form in nature.  This idea has influenced many artists around the world, and it has also influenced individuals who are not typically thought of as canvas artists but performing artists and scientists.  His most recognized work is a series of “lozenge” paintings that are canvases tilted at 45 degrees to create a diamond shape.  They are known as Composition With Blue and Composition in White and Blue.

Outside of the art world, De Stijl on canvas has influenced brilliant minds.  Frank Lloyd Wright, the world’s premiere architect with a personal history full of intrigue, uses the most recognizable form of De Stijl in the erection of commercial and residential buildings.

Of all Wright’s creations, the most famous and revered is located east of downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania called Fallingwater.  I think of it as a residential structure that was influenced by De Stijl because of its sharp lines and neutral color scheme.   This building was erected in the mountains over a 30′ waterfall.  De Stijl is a movement that heralds nature.  In my humble opinion the Fallingwater home encompasses many of the ideals that De Stijl upheld, and that is why I love it so much! Take a look for yourself!  I plan on packing up a suitcase and leaving Austin to visit this amazing structure one of these days.  Until then, I’ll continue to study the De Stijl movement in canvas art and modern architecture.

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