Figuration in Style
From 3 March until 24 September museum Villa Mondriaan is exhibiting the surprisingly figurative works by the members of art movement De Stijl. Central to the exhibition, named Figuration in Style, are the works by De Stijl pioneers such as Piet Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg, Bart van der Leck and Vilmos Huszár. The exhibition is part of the centenary of De Stijl and celebrates this lesser known aspect of their repertoire.
As well as their famous abstract works, the artists of De Stijl also made figurative and realistic paintings and drawings throughout their careers. While not as well-known, their figurative work is definitely as exciting as their abstract. Especially as the artists themselves were in conflict about it.
Discordance and unity in De Stijl collective
Despite the relationship between some of the De Stijl artists and figuration, there was a lot of disagreement in the group on this topic. In a 1918 issue of his magazine De Stijl, founder Van Doesburg attacks an artwork by Peter Alma for containing too many figurative elements. Partly in response to this, Van der Leck breaks with the collective the same year. After this point, Van der Leck takes inspiration from themes of everyday life, like trees, flowers and animals. The tension between abstraction and figuration both unites and divides De Stijl, but also stimulates them in their search for the ideal form of art.
Special artworks from private collections and museums
De Stijl, formed in 1917, is one of the most important Dutch art collectives that is known for their abstract works with primary colours and straight lines. Surprisingly, a lot of the artworks would be instantly recognisable to many. Multiple members of De Stijl, including Mondrian, started their careers painting realistic landscapes, experimenting and playing with abstraction step-by-step until their work became completely abstract. Mondrian, however, kept on making realistic studies of flowers during his period in De Stijl. This exhibition, Figuration in Style, includes some never before seen work from private collections, as well as paintings from the collections of the Gemeentemuseum The Hague, Centraal Museum Utrecht and Boijmans van Beuningen Rotterdam.
Dutch Design program
The exhibition Figuration in Style is organised on the Dutch national anniversary ‘Mondrian to Dutch Design: 100 years De Stijl’. The opening of the exhibition on 3 March has been conducted by the grandson of De Stijl artist Van der Leck. As well as Figuration in Style, museum Villa Mondriaan is also celebrating 100 years of Dutch Design with a special programme. This whole year Dutch Design is celebrated with diverse and changing exhibitions. Now on display are works from ceramic studio Cor Unum and furniture designer Dirk Vander Kooij. The museum also has a reconstruction of a boys’ bedroom with colour design by Vilmos Huszár, which was recently on show in Brazil for the largest ever Brazilian De Stijl exhibition.