Cartoonist Grant Snider of Incidental ComicsThe Art of De Stijl and Neo-Plasticism

Many decades after its creation, the work of Piet Mondrian still feels current. His grid paintings are an iconic (and often parodied) emblem of modernism. Lesser known is the work of Theo van Doesburg, another key figure in the Neo-Plasticism art movement. Van Doesburg founded the journal De Stijl (“The Style” in Dutch), which promoted the group’s tenets of simplicity and abstraction. In many ways, van Doesburg was a more complete artist than Mondrian. He was an influential writer, painter, typographer, and architect. He published a variety of work in De Stijl under pseudonyms and also contributed poetry and prose to the Dada movement.

Van Doesburg broke from Mondrian over the use of (*gasp*) diagonal lines in his compositions. That’s the problem with strict utopian rules — they are easily broken.

Here’s a list of works referenced in this comic, in order of appearance:

Gerrit Rietveld, The Red and Blue Chair, 1918

Gerrit Rietveld, Schroeder Table, 1922

Gerrit Rietveld, Hanging Lamp, 1920

Theo van Doesburg, Composition VII (the three graces), 1917

Theo van Doesburg, Contra-Composition V, 1924

Piet Mondrian, Broadway Boogie Woogie, 1942-1943

Theo van Doesburg, Contra-Construction Project, Axonometric, 1923

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red, 1937–42

Theo van Doesburg, Abstraction of a Cow, 4 stages, 1917