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De Stijl or Neoplasticism historically goes back to Leiden, Netherlands. It emerged as a reaction against the decorative excess of Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts.

It was a famous modern art form that emphasised abstraction and simplicity by characterising clean lines, primary colours, and right angles referring to this aesthetic and artistic movement.

De Stijl was a form of artistic expression, and a school of thought shared by a group of artists and architects such as J. J. P. Oud, Piet Mondrian, Georges Vantongerloo, Bart van der Leck, Gerrit Rietveld, Hoff, Cornelis van Eesteren, and Vilmos Huszár, among others.

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History of De Stijl

Although a short-lived movement, the avant-garde De Stijl had a tremendous influence on abstract art, architecture and modern art.

Dutch artist and critic Theo van Doesburg encountered Mondrian's work and saw its potential to quickly launch a new art movement for a new post-World War I world. The two met at an art exhibition in Amsterdam and subsequently founded De Stijl art.

Mondrian laid the foundations for the movement in his article "Neo-Plasticism in Pictorial Art". Neoplasticism - "nieuwe beelding", meaning "new art" or "new plastic art" in Dutch - practised purity in colour and simplicity in form. Mondrian argued that through neoplasticism, art is not meant to represent everyday scenes or objects (as in realism or still life), but rather a means of emphasising absolutes.

De Stijl inspired the Bauhaus style with straight lines and simple colours and the architecture of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Architects working in the international style were also influenced by De Stijl. The De Stijl also inspired decorative arts, and typography, including furniture design too.

Characteristics of De Stijl Movement in Architecture and Furniture Design

De Stijl's works stand out with their use of primary colours, horizontal and vertical lines, squares and rectangles within the modernism genre.

Straight lines: De Stijl art includes clean and straight vertical and horizontal lines that intersect to form right angles.

Primary colours: De Stijl followers preferred to use primary colours which are red, yellow and blue, plus black and white. These colours do not touch or mix, and straight lines often divide the colours.

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Bold strokes: Straight lines in De Stijl artworks are often black lines in bold strokes to emphasise the distinction between colours and boxes.

Geometric forms: Rectangular and square boxes are standard fixtures of the De Stijl movement. Simple geometric forms were motifs in many pieces that echoed in De Stijl-influenced architecture. Structures resembling boxes with various compartments exemplify this art movement.

Sum up:

Like many other avant-garde art movements of the time, De Stijl was a reaction against the horrors of World War I. De Stijl was inherently utopian in the sense that its members believed that art had transformative power. For them, art was a vehicle for social and spiritual liberation.

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De Stijl architecture presents dynamic concepts of spatial relations in response to traditionally static, grounded architecture from the early 20th century. These modernist touchstones represent the synthesis of ideal projections of universal space and the daily manipulations of life embedded in art. Architecture proved to be the ideal art form to represent De Stijl, with its ability to transform space, surface, universal ideas, specific situations, exterior and interior design.

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