Dutch pioneer of abstract art, who developed from early landscape pictures to geometric abstract works of a most rigorous kind. Born in Amersfoort, Utrecht. Studied painting at the Amsterdam Academy 1892-4 and again, part-time, 1896-7. Friendship with the painter Simon Mans and painted landscapes in the Hague School tradition. Began to work in a more vividly coloured and sometimes pointillist style in 1908, joined the Theosophic Organisation in 1909 and made some works of a Symbolist character. First one-man exhibition with C.R.H. Spoor and Jan Sluyters at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1909. Lived in Paris 1912-14; was influenced by Cubism, which he carried to the point of abstraction. Returned to Holland in 1914 and step by step evolved a more simplified abstract style which he called Neo-Plasticism, restricted to the three primary colours and to a grid of black vertical and horizontal lines on a white ground; associated with van Doesburg in the de Stijl movement 1917-25. Lived 1919-38 in Paris where he joined the group Abstraction-Création in 1931. Moved to London 1938-40, living near Gabo and Ben Nicholson, then in 1940 to New York where he started to develop a more colourful style, with coloured lines and syncopated rhythms. Died in New York.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.532-3