Review for Theo Van Doesburg’s Principles of Neo-Plastic Art (originally published in 1925).
By “plastic,” Doesburg means an art form derived from a universal stylistic intent. The artist gave reality a new shape in a framework of deeper and “elementary space. He also says that the available limited vocabulary for this art is “plastic”, composed of “straight lines, the right angle, the three primary colors, and the three primary non-colors – are, like the first architectural designs and the early De Stijl sculpture, avowals of a universal harmony.” (71) Doesburg coined the neo-plastic art “formative art” and “direct art.” With an intent to express himself directly, Van Doesburg was trying to reconcile the totally different conceptions of “space formation” between modern artist and lay people. The latter still resided in the spatial depth shown in perspective created in the manner of the artists of the past. Therefore, Van Doesburg believed that the only way to overcome the disparity between artists and the observer is to “restore the unprejudiced way of looking,” and establish an “elementary and universally intelligible principle of visual art.” The specific expressionist means was to reduce the object to “organic cohesion” by depriving all of the objective,natural appearance and by only accenting the organizational relationship within the object, which was the essence of creative activity determined by artists’aesthetic vision. I understand Van Doesburg’s idea as a special desire to return to the “sensory perception” or in his words “the direct contact with reality,” though his approach was distinct from others.