Bart van der Leck 1876–1958

Artist and designer Bart van der Leck is as known for his abrupt split from the De Stijl movement as he is for his role in founding the avant-garde and influential Dutch art collective. Born in Utrecht in 1876, van der Leck was the son of a house painter and began training as a stained glass painter at the age of fourteen. He undertook intensive apprenticeship in the trade from 1891 to 1899, and moved to Amsterdam in 1900 to diversify his studies.

Completing a formal arts education in 1904, van der Leck went on to focus his creatives efforts on works that were accessible to the public and could be widely-distributed, such as lithographs, furniture, textiles, poster art and public murals. In 1916, van der Leck met Theo van Doesburg and Piet Mondrian with whom he would go on to establish De Stijl the following year; at this time, he was also painting in what came to be known as the iconic style of the movement—minimal colors and geometric abstraction.

Van der Leck distanced himself from De Stijl after just one year, due to his less stringent approach to the highly theoretical, dogmatic values of the movement. He went on to design interiors and ceramics and had a long-term relationship with Metz & Co. department store, designing marketing campaigns, showrooms and textiles for them until 1951. In the 1950s, van der Leck worked with various architects on designing the interiors of public buildings, private homes and schools. He died in 1958 in his home studio in Blaricum, North Holland.

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