Theo Van Doesburg, ‘The construction of space-time III’, 1924, Centre for Fine Arts (BOZAR)

Image rights: Photo: Christie's Images, Bridgeman Images

Private collection

About Theo Van Doesburg

Theo van Doesburg, one of the founders and luminaries of the Dutch avant-garde group De Stijl (“The Style”) and a colleague of Piet Mondrian, propelled the development of abstract painting and non-representational art. He saw abstraction as art’s apotheosis. Van Doesburg’s work is similar to many of his contemporaries who worked within the styles of constructivism, suprematism, and the Bauhaus school; all drew inspiration from Euclidean formalism, primary colors, political radicalism, and the free exchange between design, architecture, and fine art. He later gradually shifted away from painterly abstraction, a change evident in works such as the gouache Sans titre (1925–26). The artist produced hard-edge paintings as early as World War I, but also made lyrical, gestural paintings as late as the mid-1920s. Van Doesburg’s beliefs about abstraction caused conflicts with fellow artists, leading him to compete with the Bauhaus school and fight with Mondrian. He died at the age of 47, while the development of non-representational painting was still in its infancy, but his influence remained profound.

Dutch, 1883-1931, Utrecht, Netherlands