Two Dutchmen of contrasting destinies, whose lives overlapped and whose architectural influence greatly exceeded the relatively modest number of buildings they executed, were celebrated last year in related but very different exhibitions. Typical Netherlanders of their generation in their utopian leanings, each left his birthplace to live—and die—abroad, but in many respects they were polar opposites. Theo van Doesburg (1883–1931), a volatile chameleon who adopted multiple personae and unleashed a veritable eruption of paintings, ornamental designs, typography, and manifestos, was an incandescent but apolitical showman dedicated to dramatic aesthetic transformation, whereas Robert van 't Hoff (1887–1979), a social radical of feminist and communist sympathies, shunned the spotlight, husbanded his production, and sought to reform society through political action as well as architecture. Linked through membership in De Stijl (the movement founded in 1917 that, although not cited in either title, ran...

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