100 years of De Stijl

This year, we are celebrating 100 years of De Stijl. The icon of the art movement known as De Stijl is located in Utrecht on the edge of the Science Park: the Rietveld Schröder House. The house, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, was designed in 1924 by the Utrecht furniture maker Gerrit Rietveld (1888 – 1964).

Rietveld became a member of De Stijl in 1919. De Stijl is the name of the magazine founded by Theo van Doesburg in 1917. This magazine would eventually grow into an influential art movement. At the end of World War I, artists such as Piet Mondrian and Bart van der Leck were searching for ways to create a new, more just society. They sought pure art without superfluities and no longer wanted to copy nature. Work by the members of De Stijl is characterised by a minimal use of colour, clean lines, simplicity in form and a search for standardisation.

These modernists were pioneering and are still exceedingly modern. Their ideas are part of the DNA of contemporary design and architecture.

Text: Natalie Dubois, Curator of Applied Art and Design at the Centraal Museum

Exhibition De Nieuwe Stijl at Utrecht Science Park

What do Piet Mondrian and Gerrit Rietveld have in common with solar cells and the development of miniature intestines? A lot more than may initially seem to be the case. The artists in the Dutch art movement De Stijl were the game changers of their day. They brought about innovation and progress. The scientists and researchers at Utrecht Science Park are today's game changers. They are responsible for revolutionary breakthroughs that have a huge influence on our lives. In a sense, they are the 'artists of life'.

Many of the research projects are on par with works of art. An impression of the skeleton of a cell is practically abstract art. In his work, Mondrian attempted to portray the deeper essence of reality. The image of the skeleton of a cell is the deeper reality. The development of miniature intestines by UMC Utrecht and the Hubrecht Institute has led to a breakthrough in the treatment of cystic fibrosis. That is art with a capital 'A'. The 'Electric Mondrian' is more obvious as a work of art, a stained glass-like panel inspired by Mondrian's colourful paintings, developed by solar energy scientists at Utrecht University to generate electricity. The ‘Electric Mondrian’ design features plastic panels in five different colours: red, pink, green, yellow and blue. And with the behavioural lenses of the HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht can designers and communication professionals insight into the current and desired behaviour of a particular target group. The colour palette the behavioural lenses use is just as varied as that used by "de Stijl" artists.

The exhibition De Nieuwe Stijl illustrates the unique relationship between artists and scientists. The exhibition will be on view at five prominent locations at Utrecht Science Park from 7 October through 15 December 2017. The locations are in Science Park buildings that have significant architectural value. This is an additional reference to De Stijl, which was similarly an important architectural movement.

Foto credits: Elektrische Mondriaan, Wilfried van Sark, onderzoeker zonne-energie Universiteit Utrecht


Exhibition De Nieuwe Stijl (The New Style) locations at Utrecht Science Park:

  • University Library – Heidelberglaan 3
  • Educatorium building – Leuvenlaan 19
  • HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Food court – Padualaan 101
  • Hijmans van de Bergh building – Universiteitsweg 98
  • Nutricia - Uppsalalaan 12*

* from the end of october


Location - Educatorium

View the gallery

Location - Hijmans van den Berghgebouw

View the gallery

Location - Padualaan 101

View the gallery

Location - University library

View the gallery

Location - Danone Research Center

View the gallery