Gerrit Thomas Rietveld (1888-1964)

Dutch architect and furniture designer, Gerrit Thomas Rietveld was a leading figure of the movement known asDe Stijl. Further, his simple shapes, vibrant colors, and geometric pieces are still synonymous with De Stijl and its aesthetic.

Gerrit Thomas Rietveld photo in black and white.
Gerrit Thomas Rietveld in 1962

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About His Life

On June 24, 1888, Gerrit Thomas Rietveld was born in Utrecht, where he would spend most of his life. In his early life, he trained as a cabinetmaker under his father between 1899 and 1906. Later, he studied as ajewelrydesigner in the studio of C. J. Begeer from 1906 to 1911. Then, Rietveld’s career as an independent architect began in 1919, the same year as his entrance in theDe Stijlmovement, which advocates for geometric abstractism as a means towards harmony and balance. In 1921, he began a period of collaboration with the designer and Dutch socialite Truus Schröder-Schräde, and they created theRietveld Schröder House.By the 1930s, Rietveld’s fame seemed to have passed, but with renewed interest in De Stijl due to production following World War II, he began receiving important commissions once more. Rietveld died on June 25, 1964, in Utrecht.

Hanging Lamp (Gerrit Rietveld) - 1920- Museum of Modern Art - Manhattan NY: A cross, and straight bar light fixture that hangs from the ceiling by 6 chords.
Hanging Lamp (1920) By Gerrit Rietveld in Museum of Modern Art

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红色和蓝色几何设计一把椅子。两届e side and the front angles are visible here.
Red Blue chair (1917-1918) by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld

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His Works

Focused mainly in Holland, his architectural accomplishments include an Amsterdam jewelry shop (1921), the Row Houses at Utrecht (1931-34), the Dutch Pavilion at the Venice Biennial (1954), the Sculpture Pavilion in the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller at Otterloo, theVan GoghMuseum in Amsterdam (1955) and, most importantly, the Schröder House at Utrecht (1924). Additionally, the last structure is currently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Rietveld-Schroder House (1924) in trecht: A simple white structure with yellow and red accents in the form of skinny rectangular lines attached to the structure.
Rietveld-Schroder House (1924) in trecht

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To further elaborate on the latter, the house is a family-sized habitation, built to emphasize a geometric balance between the individual shapes. In addition, it is a flexible interior spatial arrangement with an unconventional yet fresh approach to architecture that is an icon ofModernarchitecture.

Rietveld Schroder House (1924) by Gerrit Rietveld in Utrecht: A large, simple white building with a balcony along the front.
Rietveld Schroder House (1924) by Gerrit Rietveld in Utrecht

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Rietveld Schroder House - Upper level with the iconic chair designed by Rietveld.
Rietveld Schroder House Interior

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Additionally, he designed theRed and Blue Chair(1918-1923), which looks almost like a tridimensional version of aPiet Mondrianpainting, the Schröder 1 (1923), the Zig Zag Chair (1934) and the Utrecht (1935).

Gerrit Rietveld & His Chair: a photo of Rietveld on the left and his signature, red and yellow chair on the right.
Gerrit Rietveld & His Chair

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Red Blue chair (1917-1918) by Gerrit Rietveld: A photo of the red-backed chair with a blue and purple seat, and black arms and legs with yellow accents along the edges.
Red Blue chair (1917-1918) by Gerrit Rietveld

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Stylistic Traits

Most of his works encapsulate the De Stijl principles. Rietveld adopted what he perceived to be a purer form of geometry, consisting of straight lines and basic geometric shapes, largely rendered in the three primary colors, as well as black and white. Further, he embraced an abstract, stripped-down, yet elegant aesthetic. Partly a reaction to the excess ofArt Deco,降低质量De Stijl art, envisioned by its creators as a universal visual language, is aimed towards a perfect balance between art and life.

Zig Zag Chair (1934) by Gerrit Rietveld: A wooden, sharp shaped chair in a zig zag pattern.
Zig Zag Chair (1934) by Gerrit Rietveld

Image source: macglee (Flickr account)

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