A group of architect campaigners, Vollaerszwart, took to the streets of The Hague to transform select buildings into tableaus of the late Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. Mondrian, who come up with the iconic design composed of a grid of vertical and horizontal black lines and the three primary colors on a white background, was one of the developers of analytic Cubism and Cubist collage alongside Pablo Picasso.
Mondrian was also part of the Amsterdam-based arts movement group De Stijl (The Style), also known as neoplasticism, which was made up artists and architects. Together with Theo Van Doesburg he founded a journal for the De Stijl Group, in which Mondrian first published essays defining his theory and coined it neoplasticism.
“I construct lines and color combinations on a flat surface, in order to express general beauty with the utmost awareness,” he writes in a letter in 1914. “Nature – or, that which I see – inspires me, puts me, as with any painter, in an emotional state so that an urge comes about to make something, but I want to come as close as possible to the truth and abstract everything from that, until I reach the foundation.”
To celebrate De Stijl’s 100th anniversary, Vollaerszwart planned to Mondrianize The Hague to honor the artist, showcasing over 300 Mondrian paintings at the Gemeente Museum, in addition to transforming building facades with Mondrian designs. One of the group’s most significant productions is the design covering the City Hall building. “We went in the city to investigate what beautiful buildings [were available] to dress. Not every building is suitable for city-dressing—the skin and the visibility are important,” said Madje Vollaers, one of the designers who dressed the city in red, blue and yellow designs.
Vollaerszwart’s idea is not quite as innovative as would first appear, as De Stijl’s art went beyond tableaus and sculptures, in many cases inspiring architecture, and architects who were part of the movement group have built houses dressed into Mondrianian gowns in many cities around the world. Rietveld Schroder’s house is just one example; Schroder built his house in 1924 in the Dutch city of Utrecht, which became later an icon for modern design. Decades later, in California, Charles and Ray Eames built “Case Study House No. 8;” a Mondrian-influenced house, comprised of a steel and glass grid interspersed with primary-colored panels.