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Celebrate 100 years of De Stijl with a weekend trip to Holland

By Eleanor Perkins

If you’re looking to add some colour, shape or style to your life this year, visit Holland.

Cities across the country are celebrating 100 years of the De Stijl art movement with special exhibitions, street art and events.

Take it from me, there’s so much to be discovered and plenty to be inspired by.

This year marks 100 years of De Stijl in Holland
This year marks 100 years of De Stijl in Holland
A red, yellow and blue abacus in Amersfoort
A red, yellow and blue abacus in Amersfoort

De Stijl meaning ‘the style’ was originally a publication founded in 1917 by two pioneers of abstract art, Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg.

Bold in its primary colour and geometric in shape, it was a school of thought intended to be vivid and free, emerging from the rubble of the First World War.

The magazine became a vehicle for Mondrian’s ideas on art and the style took over Holland.

Since then, it’s had a profound influence on the development of both abstract and modern architecture and design around the world. So much so French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent paid homage to the modern art in a fashion collection which included six cocktail dresses in 1965.

And still today, elements of the style are used by Arco, the Dutch-based family-run table company known for making tables for Apple - although not confirmed.

Jean Hans Arp was a German-French sculptor, painter, poet, and abstract artist
Jean Hans Arp was a German-French sculptor, painter, poet, and abstract artist

A hundred years on, the country has found a reason - and rightly so - to celebrate the artists of De Stijl and I was very fortunate to see exactly what the fuss is all about.

Our first stop was The Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo which is exhibiting Arp: The Poetry of Forms – the first major representative of the work of Hans (Jean) Arp in the Netherlands since the 1960.

Although the German-French sculptor, painter and poet is not one of the main protagonists of the De Stijl movement, he had a very close relationship with one of the artists who was – Theo van Dousburg.

Theo van Dousburg called him “one of the principle collaborators of De Stijl” which many of his poems published in the magazine. He played an important role in the development of modern art.

Arp: The Poetry of Forms is the first major representative of the work of Hans (Jean) Arp in the Netherlands since the 1960
Arp: The Poetry of Forms is the first major representative of the work of Hans (Jean) Arp in the Netherlands since the 1960

We were given an exclusive preview of the show which is running now until September when it moves on to the Turner Contemporary in Margate.

In addition to some 80 of his visual works- drawings, collages, painting, wood reliefs and sculptures, the exhibition also shares examples of his poetry, writings and publications.

Displayed in chronological order and organic lines, the work has been sourced from all over Europe. It includes four works from Dutch collectors that when sourcing the museum didn’t know existed!

Visitors will learn about Arp’s ‘laws of chance’ work where he made collages from pieces of paper he let fall randomly onto his canvas, gluing them where they fell.

Arp would often return to make variations or alterations to earlier works or make new versions like Fleur-marteau (Flower-hammer)
Arp would often return to make variations or alterations to earlier works or make new versions like Fleur-marteau (Flower-hammer)

Arp believed art was a product of nature and subject to natural processes, including that a work was never complete but in an ongoing state of metamorphosis.

He often returned to make variations or alterations to his earlier works or make new versions. Visitors will witness this in his Fleur-marteau (Flower-hammer) work - one of his more colourful pieces displayed in the exhibition.

If that wasn’t good enough, the Kröller-Müller Museum, open throughout the year, also happens to house the second largest Vincent van Gogh collection in the world, telling of the artist’s time in both France and Holland.

The Kröller-Müller also happens to house the second largest Van Gogh collection in the world
The Kröller-Müller also happens to house the second largest Van Gogh collection in the world

Visitors can get up close with all 88 paintings and 182 drawings. It’s quite remarkable to see and there’s a great story behind it.

With some 20,000 pieces of art on offer in total, you should really make a day of it at this beautiful museum.

Jean Arp, Berger de nuages. This sculpture is exclusive to the Kröller-Müller Museum
Jean Arp, Berger de nuages. This sculpture is exclusive to the Kröller-Müller Museum

Situated in National Park De Hogue Veluwe – a magnificent 25 hectare nature reserve scattered with sculptures, it’s perfect for picnics. There’s also white bicycles available to the public free of charge.

Tours are available in English, Dutch, German, French and Spanish. Day tickets cost €8.70 for children and €17.40 for adults.

Piet Mondrian was one of the pioneers of De Stijl
Piet Mondrian was one of the pioneers of De Stijl

During the rest of the trip, we focused on another artist of De Stijl - Piet Mondrian. He started his career as a painter in Winterswijk where he lived from the age of eight to 20, where he discovered his passion and developed his artistic talents.

Villa Mondriaan in Winterswijk
Villa Mondriaan in Winterswijk
Celebrate with cake at Mondrian's parental home, now open to the public as Villa Mondriaan
Celebrate with cake at Mondrian's parental home, now open to the public as Villa Mondriaan

In 2013, Mondrian’s parental home and the adjacent buildings were thoroughly renovated and opened to the public as Villa Mondriaan – telling the story of his life and work.

There, the Figure in Style exhibition which runs until September 24, offers a different take on the De Stijl movement. Less rigorous abstraction and more creative figurative work, I found it a surprising experience, topped off by the chance to see a reconstruction of the boy’s bedroom, co-created by Vilmos Huszar.

The collection of work is only small but there’s plenty of variation and heaps of colour.

See a reconstruction of the boy's bedroom, co-created by Vilmos Huszar, at Villa Mondriaan
See a reconstruction of the boy's bedroom, co-created by Vilmos Huszar, at Villa Mondriaan
An exhibition dedicated to Huszar is on show at Stadsmuseum in Harderwijk until September 17
An exhibition dedicated to Huszar is on show at Stadsmuseum in Harderwijk until September 17

What’s also special about Villa Mondriaan is its youthful team led by Judith Kadee, 24, who showed us around. The Humanities graduate is the youngest museum director in the Netherlands, and couldn’t be better advocate for the museum.

Admission is €9 for adults and includes an audio tour, an art app and a cup of tea or coffee. Under 18s go free. A special arts quest is also available for children.

Inside Villa Mondriaan
Inside Villa Mondriaan

To discover even more about Mondrian, visit his birth place of Amersforrt. Join a guided tour to ensure you see all the street art which includes a mock Red Blue Chair originally designed by Gerrit Rietveld and the Mondrian inspired abacus along the river.

A Red Blue Chair originally designed by Gerrit Rietveld can be found in Amersfoort
A Red Blue Chair originally designed by Gerrit Rietveld can be found in Amersfoort
Even the sweets in Holland are getting the De Stijl treatment this year
Even the sweets in Holland are getting the De Stijl treatment this year
The style is everywhere!
The style is everywhere!

A busy day of art and culture can only be topped off with a relaxing three-course meal at Strand Lodge in Winterswijk, ranked by Trip Advisor as the top restaurant out of 43 in the area.

Chef Mike Vrijdags has a Michelin star and is known for surprising his guests. While perhaps not primary coloured, a décor of cow print wall paper and its lido outside will give you plenty to admire while you wait for your food.

Appetizers with a difference at Strand Lodge in Winterswijk
Appetizers with a difference at Strand Lodge in Winterswijk
Chef Mike Vrijdags who has a Michelin star served up this veal tartare appetiser
Chef Mike Vrijdags who has a Michelin star served up this veal tartare appetiser

Diners can expect appetizers with a difference, followed by the likes of succulent swordfish, mouth-watering lamb and a Mondrian-inspired meringue dessert. Book now by visiting www.slww.nl

And after a busy day, the Havezate Marveld Aparthotel, which for only €150 a night, offers a superb place to rest your head.

Get some rest at Havezate Marveld Aparthotel
Get some rest at Havezate Marveld Aparthotel
Find a Jacuzzi bath in each room at Havezate Marveld Aparthotel
Find a Jacuzzi bath in each room at Havezate Marveld Aparthotel

Its two bedroom modern suites are not only spacious and clean but come with the added bonus of a jacuzzi bath. Other perks include a swimming pool, pitch and put golf and bowling. One night really was not enough.

Visit www.havezatemarveld.nl to book now.

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