Theo van Doesburg

(Utrecht 1883 - 1931 Davos)

Born Christian Emil Marie Küpper in Utrecht, he chooses a pseudonym early on, adopting his stepfather Theodorus Doesburg’s name. He briefly attends acting school in Amsterdam and writes poetry. In 1904, he begins making visual art as an autodidact. His early work shows the influence of the Fauvists and the Expressionists. In 1912, he also starts publishing art criticism and discovers the writings of Wassily Kandinsky. In 1916, he is introduced to Piet Mondrian. He creates his first nonrepresentational compositions and launches the artist’s group “De sphinx” and, in 1917, the magazine De Stijl. He designs church windows and architecture projects. In 1925, he and Mondrian have a falling-out. In 1926–28, he works with Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber on the interior designs of the cabaret “Aubette” in Strasbourg. He launches the magazine L’art concret in 1929 and, in 1931, is one of the initiators of the artists’ group “Abstraction-Création” in Paris.