Design Omnibus: Mondrianification

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday March 29, 2017

2017 marks a hundred years since the founding of De Stijl (Dutch for “style”), a legendary group of artists and architects that revolved around Theo van Doesburg, Piet Mondrian and Gerrit Rietveld. Museums throughout the Netherlands will be celebrating this special year, headlined by the exhibition 100 Years of De Stijl at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.

Meanwhile in The Hague, where the world’s largest collection of Mondrian’s work is held at Gemeentemuseum, the Richard Meier-designed City Hall has been re-imagined as the world's largest "Mondrian painting".

The Hague City Council decided to honor Mondrian by re-facing the building with a design created by artists Madje Vollaers and Pascal Zwart of Studio Vollaerszwart. The design will remain in place for the year, with other buildings also getting the treatment. video Photos, l. and r.© Jerry Lampen/ /AFP/Getty Images/ArtnetNews; Victory Boogie Woogie (1942-44) by Piet Mondrian.

Mondrian, who had escaped to New York from Europe after the outbreak of World War II, delighted in NYC's architecture. He was also fascinated by American jazz, particularly boogie-woogie, finding its syncopated beat, irreverent approach to melody, and improvisational aesthetic akin to what he called, in his own work, the "destruction of natural appearance; and construction through continuous opposition of pure means—dynamic rhythm." His Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942-43) is currently on view at MoMA, in the fifth floor galleries. Info

Although disbanded in 1931, De Stijl is no less influential today, embraced by artists, designers and architects as an inspiration. In fact, the Belgian photographer Xavier Delory, known for his fictional treatments of modern masterworks, has covered Rietveldl’s iconic Schröder House in color blocks in the style of van Doesburg--but only in our mind's eye. The small family house in Utrecht was conceived as a manifesto of the ideals of the De Stijl group, and has since been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Info



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