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(b Amersfoort, 7 Mar. 1872; d New York, 1 Feb. 1944). Dutch painter, one of the most important figures in the development of abstract art. His early paintings were naturalistic and direct, often delicate in colour, but between 1907 and 1910 his work took on a Symbolist character, partly under the influence of Toorop and perhaps partly owing to his conversion to Theosophy. Between 1912 and the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 he divided his time between Paris and the Netherlands, and in this period he was strongly influenced by Cubism, painting a series of pictures on the theme of a tree in which the image became progressively more fragmented and abstract (Flowering Apple Tree, 1912, Gemeente Mus., The Hague). By 1914 he had virtually eliminated curved lines from his work, using a structure that was predominantly horizontal and vertical, with the merest suggestion of natural forms underlying the patterning.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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