MONDRIAN SOCKS MANIA – 100 YEARS OF DE STIJL IN 2017
October 26, 2017
In 2017, it is 100 years since De Stijl (the Style), the Dutch art movement, was founded. What started out as the eponymous art journal grew into a fully-fledged movement in the first half of the 20th century, becoming Holland’s most important contribution to modern art.
De Stijl started in Leiden in 1917 when De Stijl magazine was established by Theo van Doesburg. De Stijl artists search for a completely ‘new art’ that is also expected to renew all of society. Piet Mondrian is a role model for all De Stijl artists. Even today, the principles of De Stijl continue to inspire many designers including us at DTMX socks dedicating 3 designs of our FW17/18 collection to Piet Mondrian.
Piet Mondrian is undeniably one of the great designers who’s work has crossed over into multiple disciplines of design, specifically his artwork Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow.
As one of the founders of the Dutch modern movement De Stijl, he is recognized for the purity of his abstractions and methodical practice by which he arrived at them. He radically simplified the elements of his paintings to reflect what he saw as the spiritual order underlying the visible world, creating a clear, universal aesthetic language within his canvases. In his best known paintings from the 1920s, Mondrian reduced his shapes to lines and rectangles and his palette to fundamental basics pushing past references to the outside world toward pure abstraction. His use of asymmetrical balance and a simplified pictorial vocabulary were crucial in the development of modern art, and his iconic abstract works remain influential in design and familiar in popular culture to this day.
A theorist and writer, Mondrian believed that art reflected the underlying spirituality of nature. He simplified the subjects of his paintings down to the most basic elements, in order to reveal the essence of the mystical energy in the balance of forces that governed nature and the universe.
Mondrian chose to distill his representations of the world to their basic vertical and horizontal elements, which represented the two essential opposing forces: the positive and the negative, the dynamic and the static, the masculine and the feminine. The dynamic balance of his compositions reflect what he saw as the universal balance of these forces.
Mondrian’s singular vision for modern art is clearly demonstrated in the methodical progression of his artistic style from traditional representation to complete abstraction. His paintings evolve in a logical manner, and clearly convey the influence of various modern art movements such as Luminism, Impressionism, and most importantly, Cubism.
Mondrian, and the artists of De Stijl, advocated pure abstraction and a pared down palette in order to express a utopian ideal of universal harmony in all of the arts. By using basic forms and colors, Mondrian believed that his vision of modern art would transcend divisions in culture and become a new common language based in the pure primary colors, flatness of forms, and dynamic tension in his canvases.
Mondrian’s book on Neo-Plasticism became one of the key documents of abstract art. In it, he detailed his vision of artistic expression in which “plastic” simply referred to the action of forms and colors on the surface of the canvas as a new method for representing modern reality.
The refinement of Mondrian’s abstractions as well as the utopian ideals behind his work had an immense impact on the development of modern art, both while he was still alive as well as after his death. His work was immediately referenced by the Bauhaus, particularly in the simplified lines and colors of the school’s aesthetic, as well as its ideal in which the arts could bring concord to all aspects of life. Later on, Mondrian’s style can be seen in the developments of the Minimalists of the late 1960’s, who also opted for reduced forms and a pared down palette.
Not only influential within modern art, Mondrian’s far-reaching impact can be seen across all aspects of modern and postmodern culture, from Yves Saint Laurent’s color-blocking in his “Mondrian” day-dress, to the use of Mondrian’s Neo-Plastic style and palette by the rock band the White Stripes for the cover of their 2000 album, De Stijl, as well as his name as the moniker for three hotels, the “Mondrian” hotel in New York, or Mondrian Mania DTMX odorless urban socks.