If you are visiting The Netherlands this year and venturing outside of Amsterdam (which I can only highly recommend) you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by blocks in yellow, blue and red. That’s right: we are celebrating 100 years of De Stijl. The Dutch art movement that forever put Dutch design on the map. And while many museums are hosting exhibitions, it’s just as easy to spot De Stijl on the streets of The Netherlands. Here’s where you should go.
In one of the oldest parts of my hometown Utrecht, hidden between ordinary houses, lurks the Rietveld Schröder House, striking in black and white, subtly decorated with primary colours and built from fearless rectangular planes. It is just one of the examples of seeing Dutch art movement De Stijl out in the open. No need to pay an entrance fee.
Piet Mondriaan and Theo van Doesburg founded De Stijl in 1917 and was mainly executed by artists, graphic designers and architects. De Stijl reduced art and design to the use of black, white, the primary colours and horizontal and vertical lines only. This year, at its centennial, we can learn more about De Stijl by just wandering around the cities that were most influenced by the movement that really put Dutch design on the map.
De Stijl inspired street art
Since De Stijl was originally very popular by architects and creators of applied art it feels only natural that during the 100-year birthday celebrations new works of De Stijl inspired art have popped up all over The Netherlands.
One very special mural has just been finished a 5-minute bike ride from where I live, in the Overvecht neighbourhood, a 10-minute bus ride away from the city centre. Johan Moorman painted his work within 48 hours and was completely inspired by De Stijl.
Recently, the Pieterskerkhof in Leiden has been completely transformed into a De Stijl open-air museum, by 20 artists from all over the world. Their murals can be admired until the end of August. Just around the corner at Gerecht the prototype of Maison d’Artiste, which was designed by De Stijl founder Theo van Doesburg, and Cornelis van Eesteren in 1923. This particular prototype has been an inspiration for architects ever since and this one was built by students of Delft University.
If you like to really to search for street art, go check out the bike parking just outside The Hague central station. The Hague Street Art has sponsored this particular piece and it’s so much fun to see this form of art used on something so practical.
Another piece of De Stijl inspired street art I’d love to show you is not actually there anymore, but I found these photos on the Unurth website and thought they were just too good not to show you guys. The murals are made by Zime + Late. Aren’t these great?
Gerrit Rietveld chairs in Utrecht and Amersfoort
One of the most iconic De Stijl pieces is the Red and Blue Chair by Gerrit Rietveld. He designed the chair in 1917 and it was painted in 1920. Because of the colours, the chair almost faded into the background of the Rietveld Schröder Huis where it was later placed. The original chair can be seen in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but gigantic replicas can be seen this year throughout the cities of Utrecht and Amersfoort. There are large Red and Blue chairs next to Utrecht central station, near Oudergracht and in Amersfoort in front of the historical Koppelpoort.
De Stijl building façades
The cities that were influenced the most by De Stijl have taken up dressing up their most important and iconic buildings. Also, shops and even train stations have dressed up in primary colours only to celebrate 100 years of influential Dutch design.
The Hague has done an excellent job dressing up their iconic buildings. Recently, the recently renovated train station was completely dressed up like a Mondriaan painting. With blue, red and yellow glass windows, shop fronts and time table screens. Walking from the station you will immediately see the huge city hall completely dressed up. The frame of the building was already white with lots of rectangles, so turning it into a De Stijl inspired building wasn’t that difficult (although, placing all the coloured panels up the façade must have been quite the job!). And in The Hague city centre you should definitely sit on the Mondriaan steps at Spui, these are awesome.
Another street art project was recently completed in Utrecht: the Anne building (owned by an organisation promoting green energy for everyone) was completely painted in De Stijl style by the team of Graphic Surgery, who make a lot of De Stijl inspired urban art. The building seems a temporary one, though I’m not sure how long it will stay where it is now, just next to the Utrecht tradefair.
A lot of effort has been put into dressing up window shops and because of this, a shopping trip can easily turn into a bit of a makeshift De Stijl themed city walk. If you follow, for example, the largest canal in Utrecht, Oudegracht you will see primary colours brightening up basically every shop alongside it. Same goes for shops in the The Hague Passage and several shops in Amersfoort and Leiden. Special mention for De Rode Winkel in Utrecht where you can also spot portraits of the pioneers of De Stijl, made by Utrecht artist Daniel Roozendaal.
Sleeping in De Stijl
If you’re a big admirer of Mondriaan, Rietveld and Van Doesburg, maybe you’d like to take your Dutch experience to a whole new level and sleep Victory Boogie Woogie style in Bilderberg Europa in by the beach in The Hague. The balconies of the hotel have been iconically painted red, blue, yellow. And Hotel de Tabaksplant in Amersfoort even has a Mondriaan inspired room, as the painter was born in Amersfoort.
Read more about De Stijl movement
- De Stijl: celebrating 100 years of Dutch design
- Mondriaan to Dutch design
- Plan your sightings of De Stijl street art using my city guides of Utrecht, The Hague and Amersfoort.
This week I am featuring De Stijl on my Instagram page, using the #LoveDeStijl. You can also check out #100jaardestijl to see more excellent examples.
the adventurerAugust 23, 2017 at 3:37 am
This is amazing! I was in Utrecht a few years ago while studying abroad in Paris and loved the diverse architecture =o) I would love to visit the Netherlands during this time to see all of these De Stijl inspired designs. Thanks for sharing!
LorelleAugust 23, 2017 at 10:47 am
These are great Esther. They brighten up the city. Never been to the Netherlands, looks quite interesting. Lorelle 🙂
Tanja (the Red phone box travels)August 23, 2017 at 2:27 pm
it kind of looks like lego:) fun #wanderfulwednesday
HannaAugust 24, 2017 at 11:44 am
Hey Esther, thank you for leaving such a nice comment over on my blog! I love traveling to the Netherlands, so your blog is a goldmine of helpful tips so I will probably come back again and again. Hope you’re having a lovely week, Hanna
EstherAugust 24, 2017 at 5:51 pm
Thank you Hanna, I hope to see you here again!
KatyAugust 24, 2017 at 1:16 pm
This is so cool Esther – really inspired to learn more about the De Stijl movement now. Love all the different interpretations across the Netherlands.
CatherineAugust 24, 2017 at 7:36 pm
We are meandering around the Netherlands at the moment and we have noticed many nods to de Stijl and now we know why!
EstherAugust 25, 2017 at 10:25 am
I hope you get to see some De Stijl exhibits while you’re here, they’re really good. Enjoy your Dutch Travels!
hilaryAugust 24, 2017 at 9:01 pm
I Love this so much! I’m married to an architect/designer, so am very familiar with the De Stijl movement. What a great post!
JonnyAugust 24, 2017 at 10:29 pm
Fabulous. In my previous life as a financial consultant I used to travel to the Hague and Rotterdam rather often, and adored the Dutch architecture and imaginative street art (still do, actually…). De Stijl always immediately puts me in mind of Lego bricks, but – hey! – everyone loves Lego, and those bold colours and striking patterns will brighten up any cityscape. Really enjoyed reading this – thanks!
BrynaAugust 25, 2017 at 3:34 am
I love this themed post, Esther! I love spotting art scattered around cities. Oddly enough I don’t recall spotting any De Stijl styled art when I was in Amsterdam. Maybe I just wasn’t looking out for it and just didn’t register what I was seeing!
EstherAugust 25, 2017 at 10:19 am
Hi Bryna, Amsterdam is not really a ‘De Stijl’ city, more a Berlage and Amsterdamse school city 😉 You will find De Stijl inspired street art in Amsterdam, but not in the city centre. See, more reasons to explore more of The Netherlands!
Kyle StudstillAugust 25, 2017 at 2:42 pm
Fantastic colors, great to know about these under-explored places!
RuthAugust 25, 2017 at 8:11 pm
I have seen De Stijl pieces before but I had not idea it was an art movement (or which artists were behind it). I am glad you illuminated me through your post. I find it it interesting how some of these “simple,” clean line, few colors designs captivate the world. It is like the artists understand very well what pleases the eye and are able to come up with something that becomes universal.
EstherAugust 30, 2017 at 12:39 pm
They were so revolutionary at the time and were met with lots of resistance. I guess that is what separates the real artists from the amateurs, right?
AnisaAugust 26, 2017 at 1:29 am
I love it. Street art is one of my favorite things and I love that there is this theme. I think my favourite is the steps.
LoloAugust 26, 2017 at 8:49 am
Oh how interesting! Sounds like I need to get to the Netherlands this year! I haven’t seen any of De Stijl’s work!
VanessaAugust 26, 2017 at 1:24 pm
I love that staircase! I think I would walk around with a smile even on the rainiest days just because of the art if I lived there!!
Wendy MaesAugust 26, 2017 at 4:33 pm
My son really loves Mondriaan, so we will go for sure (we live in Belgium). Thanks for sharing.
MichwanderlustAugust 26, 2017 at 5:14 pm
I can’t quite put my finger on what this reminds me of. Perhaps I’ve seen de Stijl pieces around somewhere before. Love how it’s seems so simple yet captivating.
AlexAugust 26, 2017 at 10:00 pm
I love Mondriaan and I love those painted steps! I hope the cities keep some of their exhibitions because they really bring extra life to the places. Brilliant post, thanks for sharing your pictures!
EstherAugust 30, 2017 at 12:40 pm
Thank you Alex!
Rob+AnnAugust 27, 2017 at 8:00 am
This is seriously our kind of street art – mostly because we’re Mondrian fans. LOVE that staircase, too! How very cool that De Stijl is focused on around the country for this year. What a great thing to see when you visit!
JanAugust 28, 2017 at 6:55 am
I also think it has a Lego Vibe about it. Very interesting concept.
Erin GustafsonAugust 28, 2017 at 10:58 am
Oh I LOVE this Esther! The street art is fabulous! Love the collection and learning about the De Stijl movement – I’ve always been a huge fan of Mondrian. So great that it is still revered.
EstherAugust 30, 2017 at 12:40 pm
You should really visit my neck of the woods, Erin! Lots of Mondriaan and Rietveld for you to enjoy!
AndaAugust 30, 2017 at 10:33 am
De Stijl art movement looks fabulous. I’ve never heard of it before, which makes me feel pretty bad. I’ve seen this type of street art before (the combination of red, yellow and blue) in some magazine and I remember liking it a lot without knowing what it was, so thank you for educating me.
EstherAugust 30, 2017 at 12:42 pm
Don’t feel bad Anda, I learned about De Stijl in college, but have only started to read up on it since a couple of years. It’s quite strange to me that a couple of designers and architects from such a small country completely changed the way we feel about building houses and designing furniture today.
MarySeptember 1, 2017 at 7:59 am
What a great collection! We love street art and this would be so cool to see in person. I’ve seen these around over the years but didn’t know it was part of the De Stijl movement. Thanks for the art lesson!
JessiSeptember 2, 2017 at 3:56 pm
Wow – I love the different interpretations! How cool 🙂
AnnaSeptember 5, 2017 at 8:11 am
All those Mondriaan inspired creations are beautiful! And so iconic!
KanaSeptember 6, 2017 at 7:12 pm
I absolutely love all the primary color decorations! I’d love to see them in person someday! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this week! xo
Janine GoodSeptember 6, 2017 at 9:11 pm
The street art is in such a beautiful set of colours. The primary colours truly do stand out. I need to check this out next time I head to the Netherlands! Thanks for coming out to Fly Away Friday! See you this week!
StaciSeptember 7, 2017 at 3:58 am
Oh, this is SO amazing. I love the different applications. I hope that most of these installations will be up for a while because it will probably be more than a year before I can visit The Netherlands. Definitely pinning this for later. Thanks for such an informative post.