de stijl - mondrian - van doesburg - dada

As a young photographer and audiovisual designer, it is hard not to be impressed by the conceptual power of the work of Piet Mondrian and De Stijl. I was introduced to these worlds by the architect Dick van Woerkom and a few years later, the art historian Nancy J. Troy asked me to picture the iconic works for the exhibition De Stijl 1917-1931, Visions of Utopia, which she curated for the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, USA. The exhibition was also on display in The Netherlands: in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam for one part and in Rijksmuseum Kröller Müller in Otterlo for the other.

catalogue Walker Art Center, 1982
the invention of the diagonal

Looking at De Stijl and comparing its protagonists, I became increasingly fond of the character of Theo van Doesburg. This complete independence of mind, which I had recognized earlier in the attitude of Fons Asselbergs of the NDB, was a convincing guideline in matters of choice and chance. In the end, it turned out to be the dynamics and multiple identities of Theo van Doesburg that informed all of my later work. In his quest for a new aesthetic for the built environment, Van Doesburg aspired to disrupt the statics of architecture with the dynamics of painting. The correct algorithm for him to do so was a gradual discovery process during his work. I’m still fascinated by the breakthrough inventions that were part of that process.

neo plasticism in architecture
catalogue Haags Gemeentemuseum, 1983

Visions of Utopia severely interfered with another exhibition initiative of four significant museums to deal with architectural functionalism. One of these institutes was the Haags Gemeentemuseum (now Kunstmuseum The Hague). They planned to focus on how the avant-garde (De Stijl) influenced modernism in architecture but couldn’t repeat the setup of the American exhibition with all those original world famous Mondrian paintings, etc. So, they had to come up with something completely different, and the answer was to develop an audiovisual environment as the show’s centerpiece that would explain the architectural concept of De Stijl in a very visual and associative way. I had the honor to get that assignment. Along with Lenneke Büller, the script was written and published in the little booklet below.

script audiovisual presentation, 1983
selected projects
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ICAM3-conference of the International Confederation of Architectural Museums, held at the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture from 17-22 Sepetember 1984. This paper was presented during the Wednesday afternoon session on “presentation of architecture in audiovisuals and exhibitions”. Speakers: Jean Dethier, Frank den Oudsten, Luce van Rooij, Dick van Woerkom, Nic Tummers and Benno Premsela / reporter: Heinrich Klotz, Deutsches Architektur Museum.