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In 1917 Theo van Doesburg has founded magazine De Stijl in Leiden. Soon the magazine starts to play a key role at home and abroad. Van Doesburg invites like-minded artists abroad to publish in the magazine.

An artists movement develops around magazine De Stijl, consisting of a.o. Piet Mondriaan, Bart van der Leck, Vilmos Huszár and Gerrit Rietveld. This group of painters, architects and designers aims for an autonomous, universal art, intended for a new human being in a new society. The basic principle should no longer be the individual, but the whole of society. A completely new idiom should appeal to all people in an equal way and should lead to a more harmonious world. Their ideas on this matter are published in the magazine.

Leiden and De Stijl

Leiden is the birthplace of De Stijl. It is here where Theo van Doesburg (1883-1931) has founded the magazine in 1917, to which the international movement owes its name. Leiden, in those years, was a city that was ablaze with art and science, as well as a place where famous scholars such as Albert Einstein, Heike Kamerlingh Onnes and Paul Ehrenfest were working next to artists such as Theo van Doesburg. With his profound dedication to De Stijl, Theo van Doesburg has given revolutionary shape to a new world: that of the modern life in the twentieth century.

Theo van Doesburg

Theo van Doesburg is the founder of De Stijl, the world-renowned art movement that has originated in Leiden in 1917. From here, the radically renewing abstract art conquered The Netherlands and then: the world. Read more about Theo van Doesburg

Theo van Doesburg
Theo van Doesburg Self Portrait (around 1914)

Chaotic Times

An important substantial incentive for the Stijl-artists was to create harmony by balancing contradictions, both in art and in the world. De Stijl has arisen during a chaotic period. Theo van Doesburg was convinced that the –in his eyes- exaggerated individualism formed the main cause for the First World War. Therefore, the aim of De Stijl was to create new universal art that would fit the new time-awareness, in which a well-balanced relationship was sought between ‘the universal and the individual’.

Contra-Composition VII

In March 2017 the De Lakenhal Museum has purchased a rare, abstract painting at an auction in London by Theo van Doesburg. In 1924, he painted the Contra-Composition VII in Paris, during the hey-days of De Stijl. Exactly 100 years after Theo van Doesburg has founded the eponymous magazine De Stijl in Leiden in 1917, Museum De Lakenhal is able to add this masterpiece of international importance to its collection for eternity. Contra-Composition VII was purchased thanks to the generous support of the Vereniging Rembrandt– partly thanks to her Nationaal Fonds Kunstbezit, the Mondriaan Fonds, the VSBfonds, the Vereniging van Belangstellenden in Museum De Lakenhal, the Lucas van Leyden Mecenaat, the gemeente Leiden, the Banderfonds and a variety of anonymous, private donors.

Theo van Doesburg
Theo van Doesburg Contra-Composition VII, 1924