Renewal and Upheaval: Dutch Design Between the Waes* By Aiston Purvis In 1917, the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum held an exhibition of ad vertising art that sparked a debate between the artist and poster de- signer R.N. Roland Holst and the socialist political cartoonist Albert Hahn regarding the artists role in advertising. Roland Holst main- ained that an advertisement could be either straightforward Infor mation or a shout," and since truth did not have to be overstated the shout was both undesirable and unnecessary. Albert Hahn however took the opposite position. He maintained that advertising was a true populär street art and influenced people who would never think of entering a museum or gallery. He found the "shout" quite appropriate nd observed furthermore that an artist could successftilly use this ap- proach as well. The dispute kept to these two points of view with no truce in sight. The Netherlands had remained neutral during World War I but bv no means avoided its effects. However, as the war drew to a close life T"in m°S' °f El"0pe'Wassti" «onomically and culturally stable. The security of this atmosphere allowed for discus- sion of such issues, which, in a more troubled society, might have seemed fnvolous By the end of 1917, there were already signals that a transition to new frontlers had begun and that forces were in position World w temUr1yirenaiSSanCe in °Utch graPhic desi8n- The end of World War 1 would serve as a catalyst to this renewal Noticeable changes began taking place as industry started using tio'n VANK th0ntvmPOrary 8raphk deSlgnerS" A1S0'the °rganiza- tion VANK the voor Ambachts-Nijverheidskunst (Association for Grafts and Industrial Design) played an increasingly igorous role in this alhance. Since its inception in 1904, VANK had ex- erted considerable influence and as a professional Organization, it was ltS embrace of Practitioners in a wide variety of professions band'dir°^gvP C d6Sign t0 architecture- lasted until it was dis- banded by the Nazi occupiers in 1942. Essentially, VANK had three objectives: to support issues relating to the various professions of its members, to promote the development of the arts and crafts within the industrial sector; and to inform the public about its activities. urmgtms Pen°d between the wars, five reformist forces would emerge in the Netherlands: the traditional but innovative approach of an van Krimpen and S.H. de Roos; De Stijl, presided over by Theo van Doesburg; the Wendingen style of the architect H. Th. Wijdeveld- the Constructivism of Piet Zwart and Paul Schuitema; and the veryner- sonal approach of H.N. Werkman. In 1917, Van Doesburg launched the De Stijl movement together with the architect J.j.P Oud, the writer, poet, and music critic Antonie Kok, and the painters Vilmos Huszär, Bart van der Leck, and Piet Mondnan. The first issue of their journal De Stijl (they had consid- ered calling it The Straight Line) appeared in October of the sameyear Van Doesburg was an inventive, unyielding, and offen heiligerem artist who worked in many sectors with passionate energy and was ac- tive as a lecturer, writer, painter, architect, poet, sculptor, furniture and industrial designer, and typographer. His own eclecticism reflected the multifarious nature of the De Stijl movement itself and its objective to encompass all aspects of life. WD^ ™aS T!°fmany Cultural reactions to the devastation of World War I, and the basic goal of its practitioners was to free art from various non-essentials such as subject matter, Illusion, ambiguity, and subjectivity. Abjunng all kinds of emotion outright, they attempted in this way to dilute the possibility for another, similar tragedy They renounced what they considered to be the over-decorative and deca- dent art of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and looking at the ffi- ture, they wanted to clear the way for a new art form for an industrial society and beheved in a social and artistic revolution where art and daily hfe would be inseparable. The Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau were both rejected as decadent and sentimental. Visually, De Stijl was based upon fbnctional harmony and elementary rectan- gular forms and its palette was restricted to black, white, shades of gray, and the primary colors. Two of the most prominent members of the De Stijl movement were architects Gerrit Rietveld and J.j.P Oud. Rietveld, the son of a furniture niaker, produced his first De Stijl furniture in 1919, and the prototype or his famous lean chair" was finished in 1918. This was originally made of natural wood, but it was later painted in the primary colors. Oud was a social activist and for all practical purposes the official ar- c itect of Rotterdam. In 1925, he designed the Cafe Unie in Rotterdam a buildmg which could be described as the architectural embodiment of De Stijl principles. Van Doesburg had an early empathy for Dadaism. In the third issue Print 38 Aiston W. Purvis teaches graphic design at Boston University where he serns as deoartment &Z2eKu2ZCllTale WaYFmZhe\0f,hefaCUttyat the ^MijhAclme van Z jjr u (Royal Academy ofFineArts) at The Hague where he taught graphic desitrn h Van Zra^eZt^t^ *Advert Black, designed by Just van Rossum.

Print Magazine en | 1991 | | page 46