De Stijl typography

In 1919 van Doesburg designed a new typographic alphabet. As well as bringing modernist design into mass culture, the intention was to provide a visually appropriate form for writing about and promoting all of the artistic disciplines associated with De Stijl. There were no curves, each letter was inscribed within a square or rectangle, and visual uniformity was ensured by the invariable use of capital letters. This typeface remained at the cutting-edge of modernity until 1923, and versions of it were developed by artists such as Kurt Schwitters, and Frederick Kiesler. In Holland it recurred in more schematic forms by Huszár and Bart van der Leck. Van Doesburg himself, however, abandoned it in 1921.

There also appeared fledgling attempts to express time in typography, with certain texts overlapping so that they might be read ‘simultaneously’, such as on van Doesburg’s poster for the Section d’Or Exhibition. Some features of van Doesburg’s design and advertising work, such as the diagonal text on the cover of his book Classical, Baroque, Modern (1920), anticipate the dynamic style of his Counter-compositions from 1924–5.

Theo van Doesburg Design for poster and The Little Review 1925

Theo van Doesburg
Design for poster and The Little Review 1925

Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo