jaune, geel, gelb, yellow.
Acts of modernism with Antonis Pittas and Theo van Doesburg

Centraal Museum has invited Antonis Pittas (1973) to present his perspective on the Van Doesburg sub-collection. Pittas’s intervention was inspired by his time as artist in residence at the Van Doesburg House in Paris (Meudon-Val-Fleury) in 2019. During his residence, Pittas studied the history and the mentality of Theo van Doesburg, the Van Doesburg House, and the wider De Stijl movement.

Centraal Museum has a unique sub-collection of works by Theo van Doesburg. Van Doesburg grew up in Utrecht and, as a driving force behind De Stijl, became one of the most influential artists in modern European art history. He designed the Van Doesburg House in accordance with his quest for cohesion between all artistic disciplines. Construction of the house was completed in 1930.

Pittas’s stay in the studio house coincided with the yellow vests protests, and the focus of his research into modernism thus increasingly shifted towards the political unrest in the streets outside. The installation presents his study of Modernism, De Stijl and Van Doesburg from a political perspective, addressing the failure, collapse and passage into history of Van Doesburg’s modernist ideals.

The title of the installation: jaune, geel, gelb, yellow. Acts of modernism refers to the first edition of Mecano, the Dadaist magazine of which Van Doesburg published four issues in 1922 and 1923. The title of each issue consisted of a colour repeated in the four languages in which the magazine was published. The installation’s title also refers to the identifying colour of the yellow vest protest movement and Pittas’s incorporation of reflective yellow foil of the type commonly used for traffic signs and road markings. The colour reflects Pittas’s criticism of the modernism in Van Doesburg’s works.

The installation was developed in parallel with a new publication to be published in October by Jap Sam Books.