The Van Abbemuseum Collection consists of over 2800 artworks. We publish texts and images on an ongoing basis, but this record is currently in the process of being documented.
'Composition XXII' by Theo van Doesburg consists of nine rectangular planes: one red, one ochre, one blue, two white, two black and two grey planes. These planes are interrelated in a particular ratio. The painting is almost square, approximately 45 x 45 cm.
Van Doesburg’s use of shape and colour in 'Composition XXII' is in accordance with the starting points of Neo-Plasticism. The followers of this movement endeavoured to expose universal values. They saw art which provided an insight, in which concepts such as harmony and balance have a central place as a model for a better society. In 1917 Van Doesburg founded the journal De Stijl. In this journal artists, architects and writers wrote articles looking for new art forms with a universal value. They used abstract shapes and restricted themselves to straight lines and right-angled corners. Their palette consisted of the primary colours, red, yellow and blue and the non-colours, white, grey and black and Van Doesburg applied these starting points rather freely. For example, the yellow plane in 'Composition XXII' is not a primary yellow, but an ochre yellow.
In addition to being a painter, Van Doesburg was also an architect, typographer, designer and poet. His interest in architecture is tangible in 'Composition XXII'. The planes are not outlined as they are in Mondrian’s work and they are not set separately on a background as in Van der Leck’s, but are placed directly next to each other. The differences in colour and tone result in an interplay of the planes which recede or project in relation to each other. Van Doesburg aimed to achieve a spatial effect in the painting extending forward so that the viewer imagines he is in the painting.
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