PRINT December 2010

Hal Foster

FOR A LONG TIME I carried around a caricature of Theo van Doesburg, the leader of De Stijl. I saw him as an animator along the lines of Marinetti or Tzara, more skilled at publicity than at practice, and at best an effective foil for more gifted collaborators such as Mondrian, J. J. P. Oud, El Lissitzky, Schwitters, and Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber-Arp. I thought his abstraction was mostly vapid, too often a didactic reduction of cow or card players to colored rectangles—the kind of thing that can give the whole enterprise a bad name. And his aesthetic moves appeared helter-skelter—at times hubristic, as in his one-man challenge to the Bauhaus on its own turf (he moved to Weimar in 1921), at times quixotic, as though his 1922 Congress of Constructivists and Dadaists could actually mediate such contradictory movements, and at times opportunistic, as if he had to attend every party no matter

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