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Home About Designers Gerrit Thomas Rietveld
Gerrit Thomas Rietveld PDF Print E-mail
* 24th of June 1888 in Utrecht
† 25th of June 1964 in Utrecht
A Dutch designer, architect and painter, Gerrit Thomas Rietveld is one of the indigenous representatives of his guild; lives and works his whole life in Utrecht, the city of his birth in the heart of the Netherlands.
The son of a carpenter, Gerrit Rietveld is employed in his father's workshop until he was fifteen.
Gerrit Rietveld is employed as a draftsman in the workshop of the goldsmith C.J.A. Begeer until 1913.
From 1906, Gerrit Rietveld attends evening courses where he learns technical draftsmanship from the architect P.J.C. Klaarhamer. In 1911 and 1912, Gerrit Rietveld is a member of the group of artists known as Kunstliefde with whom he also organizes exhibitions.
In 1917, Gerrit Rietveld establishes his own furniture workshop in Utrecht.
By 1919, Gerrit Rietveld joins Theo van Doesburg, Piet Mondrian, and other artists in founding the art movement De Stijl. Gerrit Rietveld will become one of the most important and influential artists in that group. The De Stijl artists formulate a language of forms that is intended to attain the greatest objectivity and autonomy in a work of art; their works are stringently non-representational, radically reduced to geometric arrangements of horizontals and verticals, and a palette consisting of the primary colours red, yellow, and blue with the addition of black and white. De Stijl applies these principles to both, two-dimensional and three-dimensional work such as furnishings and architecture.
In 1919, Gerrit Rietveld designs the prototype of his famous "Red and Blue" chair which is not given the striking lacquering that is so typical of De Stijl until 1923. The chair is made of one board which is disassembled in 13 square timbers, two laths and two boards. The strict geometry and the open structure should overcome form-space-problems and by that makes interior sensible.
Gerrit Rietveld, himself, seems to have viewed his chair as a work of art since he calls it a "spatial creation", designating it a sculpture in space, rather than a piece of furniture. The "Red and Blue" chair is shown in the journal "De Stijl"; and, is also exhibited in a show mounted by the Bauhaus where it makes quite an impact. Beside the Schröder-Haus, this chair announces Gerrit Rietveld as a famous designer.
His chairs are exhibited one year after his death in 1964 at the “documenta III” in Kassel, in the Department of Industrial Design.
In 1924, Gerrit Rietveld secures an order from the young widow Truus Schöder-Schräder to build for her and her three children a house, inclusive the interior in modern style. He realizes this building project that same year, a building that would become the architectural archtype of the De Stijl movement. The colours, the division and arrangement of surfaces on the two floors of this private house faithfully follow the De Stijl principles.
Between 1932 and 1934, Gerrit Rietveld designs the "Zig-Zag" chair which consists in four simple boards fitted together at oblique angles. In 1928, Gerrit Rietveld becomes a member of the Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM). As an architect, Gerrit Rietveld designs many buildings and interiors. His biggest project, yet, being the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam with the greatest collection of paintings of Vincent Van Gogh was not completed until nine years after his death in 1964.
His most famous design furniture include the Red & Blue Chair, the Schroeder Table and the Zig-Zag-Chair.