De Stijl movement was found in 1917 in the city of Leiden. Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg are its pioneers. Originally a publication, De Stijl, which means Style in Dutch, was a magazine in which the artists promoted their ideas on art and abstraction.
Like other Avant-Garde movements, De Stijl emerged as a response to the horrors of the First World War. It promoted the reshape and fixing of society in the aftermath of the war. It embraced an utopian vision of art and its transformative abilities. Among the leading exponents of abstract art, its artists championed a visual language consisting of precisely rendered geometric forms. It usually translates to straight lines, squares, and rectangles–and primary colors.
Piet Mondrian described it as “de nieuwe beelding”, which became known internationally as Neo-plasticism. He published his essay in Neo-Plasticism in Pictorial Art in De Stijl, in which he wrote:
“As a pure representation of the human mind, art will express itself in an aesthetically purified, that is to say, abstract form. The new plastic idea cannot therefore, take the form of a natural or concrete representation – this new plastic idea will ignore the particulars of appearance, that is to say, natural form and colour. On the contrary it should find its expression in the abstraction of form and colour, that is to say, in the straight line and the clearly defined primary colour.”
Mondrian saw De Stijl as the perfect way to use elements in their fundamental state. Artists use only primary colors, non-colors, squares, rectangles, straight, horizontal and vertical lines. However, Mondrian walks away from it in 1923. Neo-plasticism also applied to the work of other artists in De Stijl.